Wishbone - Vonny and Ray
Thu, May 17, 2012I'm having a hard time getting back to sleep. Here we are in Peck Lake, Florida, on our 30' Nonsuch, Wishbone, rafted to Sharon and Richard on their boat Lucky. We had a pleasant evening eating together then Richard and Ray watched an action movie on Lucky while Sharon and I played scrabble on Wishbone. We woke at 2:30AM to lightening and rain that kept getting worse with strong wind. A sailboat was dragging down on us. The guy, a singlehander, had his engine running but his anchour was still down and dragging. We were pushing him off of us and so was he. He couldn't get his anchour up because he was busy on the helm and fending off and not sure if his anchour had dragged under us. He would motor away but not too far because of the anchour then the wind would push him back onto us. At one point Ray and I and he were fending off and his top lifeline broke and the top of his body swung down over the edge of his boat. He managed to get himself back up, thank God, but I'm sure he will have some bruises. Eventually it passed and he could get his anchour up and it was not tangled with Richards. It was odd to be talking to this naked stranger in the middle of the night as we were trying to keep our boats from being tangled up. He must have darted up from his bed to start his engine. During the strong wind Richard dropped a second anchour and we dropped one too. Richard was worried that the guy who had dragged down on us may have been accidentally pulling his anchour out. Hope it won't be too much of a mess to get the anchors up tomorrow. Ray is talking about having Wishbone trucked home from Florida. Maybe he's right.
Same day, 6:30PM. This morning the guy who had dragged down on us last night rowed over to be sure our boats were OK. That seems a decent thing to do. Today we came all the way to Indiantown where we will lay Wishbone up for the summer. We were able to get under the 54' bridge. Our new Nonsuch 30 specs say the mast is 53' high off the water. Our old ones that said it was 54' were destroyed in Panama when we had some flooding problems. The tide bar on the side of the bridge said it was at least 55' clearance. Richard and Sharon went through first with their 48' mast and they said we had two or two and a half feet above our mast so if we are going out of here next year and have an areal on top maybe it would bend but we should be OK. We just got tied up to the dock at Indiantown Marina two minutes before a big rain storm. Richard said he has never seen this many rain storms at this time of year and he has been cruising these waters for over twenty years. We are so happy to be finished traveling for this year and anxious to get back home.
Fri, May 25, 2012Wishbone is high and dry in the work yard at Indiantown Marina. The estimate for the repairs has been done, just over 20 thousand dollars. Wish we could be here for that work being done but that's not possible. Hope they don't replace things that don't need to be replaced and hope the insurance will be good for it. Our deductible is about four thousand dollars. It's in Euros. Richards boat comes out of the water this morning and we hope to get heading north later on today. My (and Sharon's) mom is 87 and she has pnuemonia so we are particularly anxious to get back soon. With four of us driving Richards car we should be able to keep going. We are pretty well ready to go. The bleach and water wash of the interior has been done and the varnishing outside. Ray has the dinghy motor and generator ready for layup and all the bimini and dodger are removed. Ray and Richard took our sail to a place in Stuart for repairs. We'll pick it up when we come back. Of course we can't really get the boat closed up for layup because they'll need to get at things to work on the boat. Wishbone high and dry in the work yard at Indiantown Marina in Florida with the boom and mast in front. What may look like a mast on Wishbone is from the boat behind us. Our plan now is to have Wishbone trucked back to Florida in the fall. That's the cheapest time because a lot of boats are being trucked south then and the truck goes north empty. In the meantime we'll have to get someplace for winter storage. We may not be able to get that at our club yet. They're pretty full. We'll take a little driving trip to Florida in the fall to see that things on Wishbone are working as they should be and to prepare it for trucking. Cruising can be expensive and it's a lot of work. We have learned a few things this year, some the hard way. This will probably be the last update because we don't plan to continue cruising in the south. Sorry you've received so many all at once lately. For a couple of months we were not anywhere that we could send them. Hope they haven't been too tedious and thank you for sharing the experience with us.
Bye for now from Vonny and Ray on Wishbone
Sat, May 12, 2012I've been working on the 119th update but seemed to have lost it. I'm sure someone with more computer savy would be able to find it but I can't so will start again. We left Marina Hemmingway near Havana in Cuba on Fri., May 4th at 11AM and arrived the next day in Marathon in the Florida Keys at 10AM and as crossings go it wasn't bad. In the beginning we thought maybe we should have waited another day because the wind and waves were a bit big but they settled down as the night went on. A brown bird about a foot long landed on our side deck and stayed from 11PM to 6AM. We don't know what kind it was but it had a white patch on its chest and a long down turning beak and webbed feet. Had we been able to get away two weeks earlier when we wanted to we would have had a new moon, so dark all night but as it turned out we had a full moon with great visibility all night. We were so happy to arrive in Marathon and have my sister Sharon and her boyfriend Richard waiting for us in their boat Lucky. We are sailing with Sharon and Richard on Lucky. Since then we have been working our way north. We both plan to store our boats in Indian Town, Florida for the summer. We have pleasant sails during the day and good anchourages at night. Sharon and Richard know this area very well so we just follow them around.
Three nights ago we were at No Name Harbour. We could see a storm was comming in before we got anchoured but were anchoured in that small and protected anchourage before it hit. It went on for a long time with very strong winds (60-70 mph) from every direction and a lot of sharp lightening and thunder. Ray was at the bow when we got hit by lightening. He had been shortening our chain because we were too close to someone. He could see sparks shooting from the top of the mast and stuff flying off of it and felt a shiver from the electricity. Richard, who saw the hit said he saw Ray do a little dance and saw the lightening continue down our anchour chain. After the storm was over another cruiser dinghied over and said it looked to him like the lightening was going from our mast up. Fortunately we do still have interior lights and the fans in Rays and my births work. We are not taking on any water. Our link 10 battery monitor works and our windlass works. So far what we know does not work is our depth sounder, auto helm, automatic bilge pump, DC power, refrigeration, VHF, running lights, steamer light and masthead light. Our propane was not working but Ray bypassed our celanoid and sniffer so we can use it now. Sharon called us on their handheld VHF during the storm and said to unplug our VHF ariel. We turned everything off but that was not good enough. Richard has been hit by lightening twice on Lucky. The first time his ariel was connected and he lost all his electronics. The second time he disconnected the ariel and didn't lose anything. Another thing we've learned this year.This picture was taken during the storm but it doesn't look nearly as violent as it felt. Unlucky as it is to be hit by lightening there are many things that we can be grateful for. We were anchoured in a small and well protected anchourage before it hit. Ray was not touching the mast. We are not taking on any water (no hull damage). It didn't happen in Cuba where communication is so difficult and expensive and things impossible to get. We are not far from where we will lay Wishbone up for the summer. With no depth sounder of our own we can just follow Sharon and Richard. We have no running lights but will not have to sail at night from here on. Also lucky we have interior lights and can cook. Anything we want refrigerated can go in Sharon and Richards fridge.
At home Ray sits on the sofa at night in front of the TV and dozes off. Eventually he wakes up and goes to bed. Before we left to go cruising a dear friend gave us a nice little beach chair. Ray finds it very comfortable and likes to put it on top of the cockpit seat and sit in it. At night he sits in it and dozes off then comes down to bed later when he wakes up. When he dozes off sometimes he slumps over a bit. Two nights ago I woke to Ray cursing and trying to figure out what had happened. He was in the cockpit and had slumped over to the side after he fell asleep and fell off the chair hitting his head on the edge of a porthole. There was blood everywhere. Lots on the cockpit sole, his pajamas, his head and face. After lots of washing we figured it was coming from a gash in the top of his head about four inches long. Yesterday morning before we took off we did more cleaning. I think we got all the hairs out of the cut and we put lots of hydrogen peroxide on it and pulled the two sides together with some big band aids. Fortunately Ray has a fair bit of bare skin on the top of his head so the band aids stuck not too badly. He probably should have had stitches but he doesn't care if he has a scar. He says it still doesn't hurt so hopefully there will be no infection. We'll check it out tomorrow. Wanted to give it some time to mend before we take the band aids off.
We are rafted to Sharon and Richards boat, Lucky. It is nice and sociable. We can hand things back and forth and eat together. At night Richard runs his generator and he and Ray can watch an action movie on Lucky while Sharon and I play scrabble on Wishbone. So long as the wind is not too strong this works. The last couple of nights when Ray came back from Lucky he's gone straight to bed, not sitting in the cockpit at all.Ray sitting in the beach chair on Wishbone. You can see we are rafted to Lucky with Richard in the background. You can't see the band aids on the top of Rays head.
Sun, May 13, 2012Our grandson Quinn's birthday today. He will be six. We took the band aids off Ray's head today and the wound seems to be healing nicely.
Mon, May 14, 2012We stayed at our last anchourage for the weekend in North Miami because it is relatively quiet there and most places have a lot of fast moving traffic with big wakes. There are quite a few boats being stored or just abandoned in the anchourage. When we arrived we remarked on a bad smell. When we dinghied to shore the smell was stronger as we passed a small sailboat. We don't know what the story was but are speculating. Two police boats came to that boat with a number of police officers on them. One of the police officers had a mask over his nose and mouth. Eventually they towed that boat away and the bad smell was gone. We thought there might have been a body on that boat but who knows. Today we moved along to Lantana to anchour, about fifty statute miles. Lantana is almost at West Palm Beach. We went through twenty-two bridges, nineteen of them had to open for us. Sharon says you don't count the high level ones because you just drive right through but they are bridges. We only had to wait for a couple of them to open. The timing worked out pretty good. There should be less bridges for the rest of the way. The typical opening Bascule Bridge. Of course all along the ICW around Fort Lauderdale are the mansions, each one more spectacular than the one before. Many are for sale but I think there are more new ones being built than ones for sale. Where does all that money come from?
Wed, May 16, 2012Today we came from Peanut Island to Peck Lake. Tomorrow we should get into the St. Lucy Canal. Indiantown, where we will lay up Wishbone for the summer, is on the St. Lucy Canal. Our mast is 54 feet high and tomorrow we will hopefully pass under a bridge that is 54 feet high. Of course since we've been hit by lightening we don't have an areal on top of the mast to worry about but we will be very nervous all the same. Low tide is at 4PM tomorrow there and that should give us an extra foot.
Bye for now from Vonny and Ray on Wishbone
Sat, Apr 28, 2012We have come east along the north side of Cuba following the Barrs on their staysail schooner "Road to the Isles" traveling twenty or thirty miles a day and staying in good comfortable anchourages at night. Some of the passes have been very tricky but we just stay behind the Barrs and don't worry. They even wait for us before going through passes sometimes, their boat being more than twice the length of ours and they draw 6.5' while we only draw 5'. We are now at Cayo Levisa, a beautiful place we probably never would have come to. There is a resort here with many cabanas for the guests and a couple of restaurant/bars. We have been allowed to go ashore on the hush even though we are checked out of Cuba and it's a treat. We ate out last night and are going to again tonight. Living it up. Here we are sixty miles from Marina Hemingway near Havana and plan to go there overnight tomorrow night, leaving about 5PM because we need good light to get out of here and don't want to arrive before daylight. Of course we only need to be able to see the stern of "Road to the Isles" because we follow them. From Marina Hemmingway it is only 120 miles to Marathon which is much better than the 300 it would have been from Los Morros. The wind is still not good for crossing but we're hoping maybe Wed. or Thu. The walkway from one side of Cayo Levisa to the other. Cayo Levisa, Cuba.
Mon, Apr 30, 2012Last night overnight we came to Marina Hemmingway. The wind was supposed to be light and variable with calm seas. I don't know how the forecast from Passage Weather could have been so wrong. There was strong wind against us with big seas so we had to tack all night against it. It rained during the night and I got soaked. The wind was becoming less strong by morning but the swells were huge. Apparently there is a disturbance in the Florida Keys and the Bahamas causing this. Don called us on the VHF radio from their boat to tell us to keep our speed up because of the swells entering Marina Hemingway. They have been comming here for twelve years and he said this is the worst he's seen it. The swells were from the north and the entrance is from the north so the swells are trying to push us all over the place and of course there is a little reef on either side of the entrance. And as per usual after an overnight passage when you are so tired you feel like puking you have to deal with the officials and as our guide book says what is required here is patience. Since we were checked out of Cuba already in Los Morros and haven't gone yet we have to check back into the country and will have to check out again before we leave. And there is the doctor, the two vegetable guys, the guy with the sniffing dog, the Port Captain, the immigration, the customs, the guarda and whoever else I've forgotten all with lots of documents to fill out and sign. So more than three hours later we arrange for our slip and come to the marina. Last night we did each sleep in the cockpit while underway for an hour or so but today when we napped it was really hard to wake up. It seems to take us a while to recuperate from an overnight passage, especially a difficult one. Maybe because we are both 67.
We are anxious to get to Marathon in the Florida Keys. My sister and her boyfriend are there with their boat waiting for us and we've been so long I hope they will still be there when we get there. Then we'll get Wishbone up to Indian Town and get it laid up and get back home. But in the meantime this is a large and comfortable marina and we are plugged into shore power so can leave our fridge on and use fans and lights as much as we want.
Tue, May 1, 2012So glad we are tucked in here at Marina Hemmingway because it's been squally with lots of rain all day. I guess overall this season we have been tucked in someplace safe for the worst of the weather.
Wed, May 2, 2012We've decided to go Fri. instead of Thu. because Thu. will still be 20 to 25 knots of wind and higher in the gusts, from the east. The gulf stream is heading ENE where we'll cross and we don't want wind against it. It will still be from the east on Fri. but lighter and we are so anxious to get going. We keep quoting our friend Celin on a boat called Allie Cat. She says if you wait for weather you'll get it.
We are getting fuel tomorrow from a guy they call the gorilla. He doesn't look like a gorilla but I guess he's very strong. We are not asking where he's getting it from. The government owns everything and they call it "resolver". That is if there's a problem they resolve it and the government doesn't give them enough to live on so they resolve it. All the jobs have a job description and that's what is done whether it is a useful job or not and most of them are not productive. Don from "Road to the Isles" is a wealth of information about Cuba. This is their 14th year coming here. He told us a story today among many others that I think you'll find interesting. He had a job here at one time where he went around to all the marinas to advise about something. When Isle if Youth started to be a big place for students from all over they said they needed more transportation to and from it and Russia was footing the bill at that time. Russia said they would give them 18 ferries to get people to and from the island. Not only would they give them 18 ferries but they would design them specially and special engines, not off the shelf. Also they would give them enough parts that they could repair them indefinitely. So these ferries and the new engines were designed on paper and before they were built the spare parts were sent to Nueva Gerona on Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth). A parts storage building the size of a football field was constructed and the parts were stored there. Now the engines were built and did not work so they ended up using off the shelf engines and more standard ferries. But for the last thirty years ten guys walk up and down inside the storage building keeping an eye on the parts and four guys sit behind a service counter and four guards patrol outside with machine guns and never has a part gone out of there. The job descriptions are made but there are so many no one checks to see if it's working out. Don said when he went into that boat yard with the storage facility he went with the marina manager and another man. It was a lengthy entrance process checking papers and all. Don asked the marina manager how often he went there and he said maybe six times a day. Don asked if the entrance procedure was as lengthy every time and the manager said that it was. Don asked if the guy doing the checking at the entrance wouldn't know him by now and he said "Yes, of course he knows me. He is my cousin and lives next to me" but those are the rules.Road to the Isles, the staysail schooner of Don and Tricia Barr and their daughter Cheryl who we've been sailing with along with their friend Dave. Tonight we met a young woman from Austria who is cycling and hitching rides on sailboats around the world. She says through the world so she is not committed to making it all the way around. She is finding Cuba expensive because they always want to know where she is staying so she has to stay in a Casa particular before she needs paperwork done. She is staying tonight and tomorrow night in one for fourty five CUCs (about 45 dollars) for the two nights. She prefers to sleep in her hammock. She also has a little mattress. The hammock has a mosquito netting and if it rains she has a cord that goes across above the hammock and a piece of plastic she puts over that so she stays dry. Then she puts her bike and other things below the hammock to keep them dry. She said when she was sleeping here like that she was glad to be in the hammock and not on the ground because there are a lot of land crabs crawling around at night and some other little animals. She has completed her environmental studies and wants to try living very simply and traveling without emissions.
Bye for now from Vonny and Ray on Wishbone
Sat, Apr 21, 2012From the good but large anchourage, a few miles across, at Ensenada de Los Barcos on the NW corner of Isla de la Juventud in Cuba we did travel for three days as planned. The first day was a pleasant downwind sail to Cayo Cocos in the Cayos de San Felipe chain and the anchourage recommended by our guide book was peaceful except for the mosquitoes. The next day we planned to go fourty miles to Cabo Frances, possibly anchoring around the corner there but if the wind wasn't favorable for that we would move on the thirty five more miles to Maria la Gorda, which was what we ended up having to do. We had been into Maria la Gorda before and it is a straightforward anchourage so we thought going in there in the dark would be OK. We got anchoured about 11PM after a second attempt. Anchoring in the dark has the disadvantage of not being able to see the bottom even in clear water. We seemed to be dragging over rock with our first attempt and were dragging with the second attempt until it grabbed something solid. Listening to the weather yesterday morning at Maria la Gorda we could hear Chris Parker clearly and we clearly heard him say that the weather in the NW Caribbean over the next while was "a mess", 25kn of SE wind Fri. night and 20 to 25 from the NW tonight, gusting to 30. So even though we were looking forward to staying put at Maria la Gorda for a couple of days we decided to continue to some mangroves that our guide book says have good protection from every direction. They are 8 mi. east of Los Morros at Cabo San Antonio which is the west end of Cuba. Maria la Gorda has no protection from south to west. We had a job getting our anchour up yesterday morning from the rock it was hooked over. It probably turned out to be a blessing that we had to continue to Maria la Gorda because that put us in reach of the mangroves in one day.
Last night just before dark we anchoured in this well protected channel between mangrove islands.Wishbone in the mangrove channel for the "weather event". Doesn't it sound like something you'd buy tickets for? We slept well last night. It's nice and flat in here but we were dragging into the mangroves this morning while adding fuel, so had to reanchour. That makes us not quite as confident as we were last night. Maybe the bottom is a little soft. We will probably have to reanchour again when the wind moves from SE to NW because there's not that much room to swing in here. When we are underway we don't seem to get that hungry. Yesterday we had a bowl of cereal in the morning, a beer mid afternoon and supper after we were anchoured but it seems plenty. Also, it's often not convenient to be having food underway. Maybe we'll lose a little weight.
The grease cup on our rudder shaft has started leaking again and seems to be getting worse. Ray is trying to do something about that. We don't want to be taking on water for the big crossing.It's totally rusted and there are no threads. It just came out. Ray is going to plug the hole entirely. It only goes to a shaft around the rudder, not the rudder, so we don't know what the grease is accomplishing. Hopefully that will be OK till we layup in Florida. We'll try to rest up here and have things more or less working on Wishbone. A NW wind would be fine for us to go to Marathon but it might be too strong and we don't want really big seas. Then it lightens but goes to the NE which would be against the gulf stream (and us) and might be choppy and of course we'd be beating then. Maybe we'll try to split the difference and check out Mon. morning at Los Morros then leave around noon hoping it won't be too breezy. We'd probably still have NW winds but maybe not as strong. Then maybe as it lightens and turns NE Wednesday we'd be getting pretty close. Chris Parker doesn't broadcast on Sundays but maybe we can hear something from NOAA though we haven't been able to yet. We can try to get Chris before we move on Mon.
In the morning from 6:30 to after 10 we are trying to get weather but there is mostly static. We are getting sick of trying to figure out what is the best thing to do with the weather we have and we're sick of looking at charts. Ray works tirelessly on trying to keep everything on Wishbone working but something else always breaks. But glad we're in here. It's really howling.
Tue, Apr 24, 2012We've had a real stroke of luck. While we were in the mangroves a few miles east of Los Morros waiting for the bad weather to pass a beautiful 64' steel hull staysail schooner called "Road to the Isles" from Halifax came in. Before we left Toronto we had heard that a new cruising guide for Cuba was comming out in the summer but it would be too late for us as we will be finished with Cuba by then. The guide we are using is fifteen years old. The new one is being made by Cheryl Barr. She and her father, Don are both captains. After chatting on the VHF radio we realized that these are the same people. There is Don and his wife Tricia, their daughter Cheryl and a friend Dave. Don was the captain of the Bluenose Two for twenty years and still sometimes makes the mistake of using that name on the VHF radio. Dave worked with Don on the Bluenose Two and Tricia is very knowledgable too. They made their boat. It took nine years of working on it in the winters in Florida. Cheryl did the welding. This is their fourteenth year to travel in Cuba and they are a wealth of information. Cheryl's web site is www.cruisinginCuba.com and her guide for western Cuba from Cienfuegos to Veradero should be out by the end of 2012. Cheryl writes the cruising guide to the Down East Circle Route and she also has a cruising guide to the Canadian Maritimes. Our stress level has dropped dramatically. We put our own waypoints in but can just follow them around. They need 6.5' of water and we only need 5' so feel pretty safe behind them. We would never have gone to the places that we follow them to because the charts make it look pretty dicey but they are confident and know where all the good anchourages are and how to get to them. Cheryl, Don and Tricia Barr and Dave Campbell. We went back to Los Morros yesterday to check out of Cuba because the weather has settled down a bit and were able to replenish our provisions (packaged and canned things only from a little store) and our fuel. Our plans have changed again because of meeting the Barrs. Until the weather is good for crossing we are working our way east on the north shore of Cuba. They know good anchourages and our trip across will be shorter when the weather permits. We are anxious to get across to Florida and so are they. We feel extremely fortunate to have lucked into meeting them. Last night they invited us to raft to them at our anchourage. It was nice to meet face to face and of course we didn't have to worry about dragging. Today the wind is NE. We are all hoping it will clock to the SE for a good crossing. By the way, the grease cup hole that Ray plugged with epoxy is not leaking.
Wed, Apr 25, 2012Today we came with the Barrs from Cayo Rapado Grande to Punta Alonso de Rojas. Shortly after we hauled our anchour this morning our engine overheated so we had to quickly reanchour. We were following the Barrs through a little pass that they assured us there was enough depth with at the time. The belts and impeller looked OK but there was a lot of grass in the raw water filter so we cleaned that and it seemed to do the trick. Later, after a stretch of sailing with no motor we had to turn directly into the wind and when we dropped our sail to motor it was overheating again. The water pump belt was loose and couldn't be tightened any more so Ray replaced it and the alternator belt too while we continued to sail tacking into the wind. The rest of the day the engine seemed fine as we chugged directly into the building wind and waves, burning up fuel. Ray said that he could be walking faster than we were going but he is a fast walker. Today we passed a good sized island, about a mile long, that wasn't on our chart. We called the Barrs on VHF to ask them about it. Don said that four years ago it was half the size and when our charts and guides were made fifteen years ago nothing was there. Things really do change. After we were anchoured Ray tried sanding the spools so the belts won't wear down so quickly as suggested by Don Barr. We must be idiots. This isn't fun, just a lot of work and stress.
Bye for now from Vonny and Ray on Wishbone
Sun, Apr 15, 2012We are getting the strong wind that Chris Parker forecasted. We are still in Nueva Gerona on the Isle de la Juventud, Cuba. Immediately on shore is a large ancient ferry boat, el Pinero, that was used to transport Fidel Castro to prison on the island. It is now up on blocks. To kill time while we are here yesterday we visited the old prison, the Presidio Modelo. It is the prison where Fidel Castro and his brother Raul and Chez Guevera were kept. In this town there are not many cars, lots of bicycles and the remainder would be equally bicycle taxies with the two seats at the back of them and horse drawn carts of taxis and busses. We took a horse drawn taxi to the prison as it is a few miles out of town. On the way one of the tires gave out. The rubber around the steel rim split and was left on the road. You couldn't say it was a flat because there is no air in it though we have seen some cart tires that look like regular car tires. Most of them seem to be made from car tire rubber, but just a strip of it around a metal rim. Five minutes later the driver had it repaired with a piece of wire and on we went, you don't see any big fires with black smoke burning tires around here. All the rubber is used for cart tires.
Wish I had thought to bring a camera to the prison. There were many buildings, four or five of them that we could go into were round and had five levels of 97 cells each five feet by eight feet with a window two feet by three feet where two prisoners stayed in bunks. There was a central tower in the centre courtyard where a guard stayed. He got to his tower by an underground tunnel so could not be got at. It is a depressing place and not used any more. The place for the political prisoners was a bit more spacious. If we understood our driver correctly some of the other buildings were used for juveniles. On the way back from the prison our cart driver went onto a little community and bought a handful of hand made nails for shoeing his horse at what looked like an ordinary house. Back in town we bought eggs and bread that was coming out of the oven. Eggs are about 75 cents a dozen and the bread is about 12 cents a loaf. Today we bought the local red wine that we like. It is about two dollars a bottle whether you buy it with a meal in a restaurant or at a bar or in the store where the locals get flour and rice and other staples measured out for them from big bags.
Surprise, surprise. The water heater that Ray didn't think had much chance of not leaking is not leaking. Yesterday with adapted parts and 42 hundred sealant and Teflon tape and epoxy he continued trying to fix it. Today we have pressurized water and hot water and no leaking. I think Ray may be turning Cuban fixing things with what he has.
Cuba does seem to have an impressive infra structure. A number of big Russian ferries come and go everyday from here bringing lots of Cubans to other parts of Cuba. We are still impressed with the reliable and well maintained buoyage system for getting around the seas and through the reefs. Of course the schools hospitals and especially the safety here are also very noticeable compared to Central and South American countries but the burocracy and restrictions are ridiculous.At a certain time in the evening the river seems pretty, maybe it's the reflections. It doesn't seem as stinky then either. But the dock still leaves a lot to be desired. Many fishing boats are really rusty.
Mon, Apr 16, 2012Maybe we should have stayed at Nueva Gerona. The wind is still very strong today. I don't think we realized how strong it was when we were up the river. We had a wild ride today for the twenty miles to Ensenada de Los Barcos west of Nueva Gerona on Isla de la Juventud. At least we were going with the wind and it was a quick passage. When we put the sail up it was flogging so much the spare halyard that we use as a secondary topping lift shook off and the topping lift that Ray had jury rigged broke but not so that the boom fell down. It is good to be away from the stinky river and the flies. This is a large anchourage and the guide says it is protected from wind from any direction. There are lots of white caps and the wind is still strong in here but the waves are small, about a foot. After we were anchoured Ray rejury rigged the topping lift and attached the spare halyard. We have to keep turning our wind generator off because the wind is too strong. When we arrived here we saw another boat that we met at Cayo Largo. It is Ian and Nes on Eilean Donan from Victoria, BC. They also plan to leave their boat at Indian Town for the summer but it sounds like they will be doing more over nights to get there than we plan to do.
Tue, Apr 17, 2012We've decided to stay put today. Our next anchourage will not be as good as this one. Chris Parker says Thu. and Fri. will be the mildest days. Still very breezy today. Lots of power from our wind generator. We figure three days travel to Maria la Gorda which should be a fairly protected anchourage, so we'll travel Wed., Thu. and Fri. then wait at Maria La Gorda for a "weather event" to pass on Sat. Then one days sail to Los Morros around Cabo San Antonio to check out of Cuba but it is very exposed so not a good place to wait. Next week Chris Parker is talking about W to NW winds for a period. That could be good for crossing to Marathon in the Florida Keys.
Bye for now from Vonny and Ray on Wishbone
Wed, Apr 11, 2012A nice beam reach today on a calm sea on our way from Cayo Tablones to the Manteca Pass outside of Nueva Gerona on Isla de la Juventud, Cuba. It's strange that we are not really welcome here as this is a commercial port and we need to have a reason. We said we needed food and fuel. Pirie had told us we would need to do that. When we were here before we thought we could check in here and were very disappointed so they seemed a bit sympathetic. We arrived in the creamy turquoise water gradually comming this way. Underway from Cayo Tablones to Nueva Gerona, Isla de la Juventud, Cuba. We met a nice young couple who tied up in front of us. They are meeting his mother and a nephew here. His father brought the boat from France to the Canary Islands and they brought it from there in December with their baby who is now eight months old. It took them twenty days to get to Tobago, near Trinidad. They've been traveling around since then and will fly back to France in ten days when his father will take over the boat. I think they are pretty gutsy to do all that with the baby. They say it was easier when they started because when they would put him somewhere he would stay but now he wants to get moving. I can't imagine doing anything like that with a baby. They cought a fish today and were looking in our fish book to see if it was safe to eat. Chrystal and Matt went with Joline, their baby, from the Canaries to Cape de Verde, a five or six day trip to see how the baby was on board. If it was a problem Matt's dad would have come and carried on with the boat but Joline was fine, sleeping more with the motion than he does on land so they figured it was OK to go to Tobago with him and it was.
Fri, Apr 13, 2012We feel we had a stroke of luck yesterday with drinking water. One of our two water tanks was empty and all but two of our eight jerry jugs were empty. Matt found out that there is a hose that fills up the ferry boats here and we can use it and it's OK to drink. Only one person said that we should be careful since we are not accustomed to the water, everybody else said it's fine to drink. We are happy to be all filled up and should be good now till we get to Florida. Yesterday we were supposed to be gone from here (Nueva Gerona) after we got some provisions but it took all morning to fill with water. The hose ran slow. In the afternoon we made about six trips into town and back with provisions, trying to figure out where we could get things with Nationals, the Cuban Peso, not the Convertable, because buying things with Nationals is always much cheaper and we had some to use up. Then we decided that we needed to change a few more American dollars to CUCs, the Convertibles, so we would have money for fuel at Los Morros when we check out of Cuba. Of course it is well over an hour wait at the bank. Outside only a few at a time are allowed to go in then there is a long wait inside but at least you're out of the sun and can sit. Three of our four American twenties had the tiniest little rip on the edge. You would never have noticed it. They said they couldn't change those. Another bank could and it was closed until the next day, today. So we were allowed to stay until today. Had a very nice dinner in a restaurant last night that accepts Nationals. With a generous tip it was 200Nationals, about eight dollars and that included a bottle of good wine. The wine was 50Nationals, about two dollars.
This morning we got our American money changed at the bank where the bills don't have to be perfect. Straight in and available tellers. I guess if we were here for a while we'd get things sorted out. When we get back to the boat we want to get our documents from the port captain and get going to the safe anchourage about twenty miles away for the bad weather that Chris Parker says is comming Saturday and Sunday. But alas, we will not be permitted to go to that anchourage because on Saturday and Sunday the Guarda will be doing target practice there. They think we should just hop back to Cayo Largo. Do they not realize it took is three days to get here from there with the wind and that's not the way we're going? Finally with much begging and saying it's not possible for us to go either way and we are safe here they give us permission to stay until Monday. Today we have to cook all the meat we bought yesterday because we aren't plugged in and don't have enough power with wind and sun to leave our fridge on. Though Nueva Gerona is a nice little town the river stinks and you can kill flies all day long and there are still lots. Our hot water heater has been leaking profusely so we have to leave our water pressure off and just use the foot pump at the galley sink. Not so bad. Today Ray had another go at fixing it and broke something. It would be impossible to get a part here.Of course Rays hat is supposed to mean Yo (I) love Cuba but he says he is going to put a question mark at the end of it so it reads Why love Cuba?
Bye for now from Vonny and Ray on Wishbone
Sat, Apr 7, 2012We are back in the marina at Cayo Largo, anxious to get going. The manager here, Pirie, was saying today that the electricians don't even have multi meters or plyers. This is a very nice government marina with good docks. It was made mainly in 2001. Of course things in salt water corrode a lot. Work needs to be done on the water system and the electrical connections here but Pirie claims that whenever he emails the government about it he doesn't get a reply. He says they don't care.
Sun, Apr 8, 2012We are away from the dock at Cayo Largo. It always seems like an accomplishment. It's so handy to walk to the store that has a few groceries and the bank and the washrooms and showers such as they are. It's nice not to have power concearns or have to worry about dragging too when you are at a dock. But this anchourage that we can still see the marina from has good holding and is very comfortable. There is enough breeze so far and sun that we have been able to leave our fridge on and not so much that we have to worry about our batteries getting too high. We'll head for the Rosario's tomorrow morning. It's only about twenty miles and it will probably be bumpy when we get through the reef but at least we'll be going with the wind. They say it's always bumpy outside here.
Mon, Apr 9, 2012A pleasant passage today with the wind behind us and reasonable waves. Too bad Sue and Bill couldn't have had more of those with us. The wind has dropped to nothing tonight at the Rosario's. Our fridge is off. We should have gone swimming but are too lazy. A fishing boat came by after we were anchoured and sold us five lobster, two of them quite big, for ten CUC (about ten dollars). We gave them a few gifts, playing cards and some toys and they offered us more lobster but with our fridge off we didn't want to risk it. We had a lot of gifts for Cubans hoping to give them to fishermen but at Cayo Largo thought we might end up gone from Cuba and still have the gifts, so gave them to Pirie and he said he would distribute them among the people working there. I'm sure they will all find suitable homes but wish we had kept a few more for fishermen. When the man who was selling us the lobster said yes he had two children and told me their ages I said that maybe the toys we had would be too young for his children. Quickly he said "no, no" as all the other men did. They all had children and of every age. Two of our lobsters from the fishermen. A couple on a Canadian boat from Vancouver gave us the correct times and SSB frequencies for Chris Parker's weather reports. Mine were confused and I hadn't been able to pick him up yet this year, probably listening at the wrong times as we have changed times twice this year, the last being daylight savings time. They gave me all the times in UTC (GMT). They keep their SSB on Greenwich Mean Time which is a good idea and we do now too. We were happy to find that we could pick up three of Chris Parker's reports. He gives three mainly for the Bahamas and three mainly for the Caribbean and says that the wind around here should be light all this week getting heavier by the weekend, then may be heavier for about three weeks. Hope there will be some opening in there for us to cross from the west end of Cuba to Marathon in the Florida Keys.
Tue, Apr 10, 2012We came today from the Rosario's to Cayo Tablones, about fifteen miles, just to put us in reach of Nueva Gerona on the Isla de la Juventud for a days sail which we will do tomorrow. It will be about fifty miles and remember we're lucky to average five knots (five nautical miles per our). We are finding the last two nights and tonight strangely quiet, maybe because we have become used to being on a dock at Cayo Largo. Lazy as we are we did manage a swim today before our bag shower in the cockpit with no one around. It's so still you can see every blade of turtle grass and star fish on the bottom of the seven feet we are anchoured in even without a mask. Ray says he thinks this is the loneliest place on earth and wishes another boat would show up. We are also missing our kids and grandkids. Today is our granddaughter Sadie's third birthday and we won't be able to call her or anything but I'm sure she is having a busy and fun day. Sunset at Cayo Tablones. We are finding this heading back to the west end of Cuba very relaxing. Partly because we came this way to Cayo Largo so are a bit familiar with it and know what to expect and partly because the wind is behind us. Also we are feeling less anxious about our crossing to Florida from the west end of Cuba because this morning we could hear four of Chris Parker's six weather reports on the SSB so should have a good idea of what to expect for that.
Bye for now from Vonny and Ray on Wishbone
Thu, Mar 22, 2012Our son Jesse and his wife Tricia and their kids Quinn who is five and Sadie who is two should arrive tomorrow morning. They will be staying at an all inclusive here in Cayo Largo, Cuba but we hope to spend lots of time together. We are so exited. Hope the kids haven't forgotten us. Tonight we were talking with Pirie, the marina manager. He is still working, just brought a group of people back from a restaurant on a beach, and it's 10:30PM. He starts early in the morning. He is definitely the man around here who can make things happen. He lines up flights, accommodations, streamlines paperwork, speaks a number of languages and seems to oversee everything. This marina is government owned and each employee gets 500 national pesos or 20 CUC (Cuban convertible pesos) per month. That's roughly equivalent to 20 Canadian dollars. We were very surprised to find that out. I would expect a man with the responsibilities that he has to be fairly wealthy. He said his father fought for the revolution and was a barber all his life and when he retired he got national pesos equivalent to 8 CUC per month. We asked him if he has ever visited Canada and he said no, he would never be able to afford the ticket and would need a letter of invitation. He said he is lucky to be in a tourist industry and to get tips so he is able to support his whole family but worries about the future of his teenage children. Of course it did occur to us that this might just be a sob story to get a bigger tip when we leave but I don't think so. Cuba is very safe and they are well educated and have health care and enough to eat, but the restrictions and low pay are frustrating for the people. Pirie says if you go to a store for Cubans and one for tourists the difference is like night and day as far as what is available. The embargo has been crippling. They used to get stuff from Russia and now get things from China so it takes months to get a piece of machinery. We will talk to other Cubans in Havana and Cienfuegos when we travel and will see what they have to say. They have arrived. Too bad you can't see how cute Sadie is.
Fri, Mar 30, 2012Jesse and Tricia and Quinn and Sadie left to go back to Canada today. It was great to have them here and be able to spend time with them. They seem to be good on the boat and we went out in the dinghy to a beautiful beach and saw some dolphins and a turtle sanctuary and an island that has a lot of iguanas. The resort they were at was good for kids too with pools that were just right for Quinn and Sadie and play areas for children. We'll miss them. It's nice to be able to spend time with family which isn't always easy while cruising.
We were talking to a gardener at the resort who has a five year university education as an agricultural engineer. His twenty two year old daughter is finishing this year with her dentistry education. He believes in the importance of education and appreciates that they can get it here as well as the health care. He said the country is not developing because of the embargo of their nearest neighbor. When we were comming back to the marina on the bus workers at one of the resorts must have been finishing their shift because many got on the bus. They are billeted in low rise hotels that are very nice. I went to two of them looking for a phone card earlier. Of course they have no costs while they work on Cayo Largo. The accommodations and meals are provided so there are many good things about this country. It seems the traveling restrictions and low wages are the problems.
Tomorrow we will fly to Havana to see it, then take a bus to Cienfuegos then Trinidad de Cuba. It would be a shame to come here and only see shorelines and this marina. So we'll play the tourists for a few days then head for the west end of Cuba to check out then over to Marathon in the Florida Keys. We are not looking forward to that passage. It will be about three hundred miles. Hope the weather will be good. We'll try to get in the strongest part of the gulf stream which should give us about sixty miles a day for free. That's the rough plan anyway.
Fri, Apr 6, 2012Back from Havana, Cienfuegos and Trinidad de Cuba today and anxious to get heading west. Of course many of you have visited Cuba I'm sure. Everywhere we visited was very safe and alive at all hours. Kids could be playing in the streets at night and old people sitting in their doorways. We found that Cubans seem very well dressed and happy. The economy and travel restrictions always being the problems, the low wages are a big part of being unable to travel. A waiter in Cienfuegos told us that he had tried three times to visit Toronto. He has friends in Richmond Hill and it was the Canadian government, not his that prevented it. Many buildings around old Havana look like they are falling apart but modern people are living in them. With the constant parade of old cars I felt like I was in Bothwell on the weekend of the old car show but this parade was all day everyday. Beside is a stable of bicycle taxies. I think this is her shtick. She sits outside a bar Hemmingway used to frequent and lets you take her picture for a CUC. I'm sure I've seen other pictures of her younger. In Cienfuegos in the morning every few minutes another "bus" comes clippety clopping by bringing people to work and school. I don't know anyone else with a pet rooster. Ray always says a balloon is the cheapest and best toy. These kids are playing outside our Casa Particular. The Casa Particulars are regulated and the sign shows where they are. There are lots of them everywhere in Cuba and they are cheap, about $25 per night, and very nice. We took a taxi from Cienfuegos to Trinidad de Cuba for the day and our taxi driver has a Spanish passport but prefers to live in Cuba. A guy running a little seaside restaurant told us that Cubans don't have much money but they have a smile and they don't have many things but they have a smile. He makes about $10 per month. Must get tips. A personal pizza paid for in Nationals which the locals use equals about 30 cents. Cuba makes us reconsider our parameters for happiness. Of course changes need to be made, hopefully soon.
When Jesse and Tricia and Quinn and Sadie were here one day Ray gave Sadie a triangle made out of a straw. Then Sadie, who is two, asked Bampa, as she calls him, to make her a mermaid. Bampa is still working on that one but even with two or three straws it's not looking very promising.
Bye for now from Vonny and Ray on Wishbone
Tue, Mar 13, 2012Hi everyone. We are finally legal in Cuba. We are at the marina at Cayo Largo. Our son, Jesse and his wife Tricia, and their two kids, Quinn who is five years old and Sadie who is two years old will come to an all inclusive here Mar.23rd. So we should be able to spend time with them and we are so looking forward to that. Our grandson Quinn asked his grandfather, Ray, why his boat was so far away, did he get lost? When Quinn was born we were in Venesuela so he has never seen our boat and of course his sister hasn't either. We hope to have Quinn and Sadie on board, hopefully overnight. I am trying to remember what was said in the last update. After we left Nueva Gerona on Isla de la Juventud we went through Manteca pass in the reef. From before we went through the water was changed to a pale turquoise and was like that all day on the inside. We anchoured for the night in ten feet on the west side of Cayo Tablones in the dark with no moon up yet and couldn't tell how far away we were since our depths had been about 15 to 20 feet all day. Later when the moon came up and the wind and waves increased we realized that we were too far from the shore to get any protection so hauled anchour and moved closer for the remainder of the night where it was flatter and we could sleep. We had a hard slog yet again from our overnight anchourage at Tablones on our way to Cayo Largo after we went outside of the reefs at Rosarios with the wind against us and big waves. From before we went through Manteca pass, about seven miles beyond Nueva Gerona until we anchoured on the west side of Cayo Tablones at night the water was a pale turquoise. We don't know why. Maybe because it was quite shallow and the bottom was sand. We are so tired of trying to go into the wind and seas that we are deciding that maybe we'll turn around here and head back west going with the wind. If we do that we will stop at every possible place and have little short runs as much as possible and stay at anchourages for a day or two. It seems that that would be a much more enjoyable way to do it. We arrived here at Cayo Largo yesterday afternoon, getting all finally legally checked into Cuba, and Sue and Bill, who had been with us probably three weeks longer than they had planned to be, because of our check-in problems got a flight out of here today. They will fly to Havana and spend some time there before they go back to Canada. They were great to have on board. We all had our skill sets with Sue handing up food in rough weather and Bill pointing out where we were on the chart on his tablet, very handy. It worked out well. Tomorrow would have been seven weeks that they would have been with us and I don't know of any other cruisers who could have guests for so long and still be getting along on a thirty foot boat. They even treated us to a spectacular meal at a restaurant after we were checked in last night. I always say no one goes to Cuba for the food but this meal was exceptional. Just now, while I am writing this a line squall seems to be going through with rain. We haven't seen rain for quite a while. It is such a treat to be in a marina. They have good docks here and power and water are included, not drinking water. It costs 55cents per foot per day, so $16.50 a day for our thirty foot boat, not bad. We were very careful about hooking up to electricity. Some other cruisers have told us horror stories about hooking up to electricity and blowing out all their electrical on the boat, maybe that was in Mexico, but this was OK. The bathrooms are grubby, of course no toilet seats and you must bring your own toilet paper and the showers are rudimentary but that's fine, still a treat. It's good we will have plenty of time here. We have lots of cleaning up of the boat we need to do as always after passages. Even things we didn't get done before we left the Rio Dulce in Guatamala like cleaning the metal and cleaning and putting UV protection on the life lines. I think we're due for more brass polishing too. Maybe even recovering our setee cushions since we are plugged in. It's nice not to have any power concearns. We can leave our refrigeration on and use lights and fans as much as we want. We'd like dear old Wishbone to be looking good when Jesse and Tricia and their kids arrive. It seems an unusual situation on this small island. It is thirty five square kilometers with beautiful beaches in the south. The north is swampy. There are four all inclusives and this marina, all for tourists. No locals live here and it seems they all work here for twenty days then return to where they live for ten days, so it is far from a typical Cuban life. The "grocery" store has some canned and packaged things and the woman says she can get frozen meat and cheese for us and fresh tomatoes if we order them. There is more booze than groceries in the store but they do have eggs. No marine store or hardware store or anything like that here, just gift shops. Amazing Enterprise is the biggest catamaran we have ever seen. You can see little Wishbone down the dock to the left. It seems that half of the boats here are for taking tourists out to dive or snorkel or whatever and more than half of the others are charter boats so still a small cruising community. Last night an Irish couple came in on their boat Indio from Dublin, just for a couple of beers and then they went out to anchour. Their boat looks a bit like a Tiana but it is a West Sail. After a couple of beers they call it a Wet Snail. I love that Irish accent. They have been cruising around here for about twenty five years. Their base is in the Cayman Islands. Mar.15th. A big blue 50' Oceanus from Spain is tied up beside us. They are a family, must be extended family too. Tomorrow they are going back to Spain by air and leaving their boat here for about twenty days. Tonight they gave us a big bag of veggies and some frozen fish and some they caught yesterday too that they can't leave on board. So lucky us. We also got some veggies from the store here today. The boat from Havana came today with supplies so good to get them when you can. Yesterday we got some meat from the store. You have to order it and come back later to get it. Surprise, surprise, we had some beef last night and it was not tough and it was tasty. Today a catamaran from France arrived across the dock from us. I don't know what it was but lots of officials have been there for many hours and one is keeping watch tonight. When we asked Pirie ( the man around here) about it he said it was a welcoming committee. I guess it's none of our business. Mar.17th, St. Patties Day today so we had the Irish couple over tonight to celebrate and a French Canadian couple who we met in Mexico who are docked on the opposite side of us from the Spanish boat. The only thing we could think to have that was green was stuffed green peppers from the veggies the Spaniards gave us. Nicole, the French Canadian, brought ordure and desert. A very pleasant evening. It's good to not have to worry about passages and to have the time to work away on Wishbone. Nicole and Jon Marc with a cigar from Ray. Patric and Alice, the Irish couple, not wearing green. We have decided that after Jesse and Tricia have left we will fly to Havana, since we can't fly to Cienfuegos, take a bus to Cienfuegos, spend a few days there, return to Wishbone and start heading west. We should also spend a couple of days in Nueva Gerona on our way west. Those two cities sound not touristy and more typically Cuban. Then from the west end of Cuba we'll head straight for Marathon in the Florida Keys, skipping the Bahamas all together. It's just too difficult to beat into the wind and waves all the way along the Cuban south shore to the east end of Cuba. We did spend quite a bit of time in the Bahamas before and it would be farther than Florida from Cubas west end. Mar.20th. A bi-plane just flew over low. It drops the mail every day. I want to mention about the Cuban buoys in the water. Belize certainly could have used a few markers for exits and entrances through reefs and Mexico could have used a few more too. But the Cuban cuts through the reefs are very well marked and straight forward. An Australian 50' boat has been across the dock from us. You know the Ausies are nuts. They set out from Australia with only six thousand miles to go and did not come through the Panama Canal but went around the horn. When they were under a thousand miles they got exited and with only six hundred left they felt they were almost there. I forget where he said they landed but today - and it's blowing hard today - they are off to Havana, only a few hundred miles. That is NOT the way we sail. I'd ideally like a 20 or 30 mile run and stay there for a couple of days. Two days ago the 75' trauler Val Kyrie arrived with Val and Ray, the musicians who we met at the El Cid Marina in Mexico. Last night they did a performance here. They had to take off today as plans changed about where they would meet their next guests. Val and Ray performing in Cayo Largo with their yacht behind. When they arrived they came over to see us and had a drink on Wishbone. Val asked us where our state rooms were so we pointed to the two quarter births where we sleep. Yesterday they showed us through their 75' boat. The tour was a bit longer. 45' is a big difference.
Bye for now from Vonny and Ray on Wishbone
Tue, Mar 6, 2012Hi everyone. We're trying to figure out how long we have been on the boat without setting foot on land and think we left El Cid Feb.29th and think we will be able to check into Cuba at Nueva Gerona on the 9th of March. We waved a couple of fishermen over the other day who had a little engine on their fishing boat to ask about diesel fuel. They said there was diesel in the town, but when I asked if we could buy some they said they didn't know. They said that we should come and anchor close to town and they would let the guarda know we were comming and we could talk to them. The two guarda were rowed out to us after we were anchoured near town and said that we could not get diesel there. We think it might be a fishing co-op or something. The guarda were very pleasant and respectful, didn't want to put their boots on our boat and hand shakes all around. They didn't speak any English. We asked if we could get diesel at La Caloma. It's about 25 miles away and we should be able to get there into the east wind with our quarter tank of fuel even if we can't sail. They spoke to someone on the VHF who I think called someone else about the diesel and then they said yes, we could get diesel at La Coloma. Our guide book says it is a port of entry and our original plan was to check into Cuba there but it's not a port of entry any more. The guarda also said we couldn't stay anchored by the village. We told them we could come back across the bay to anchour but needed to stay in the bay until a cold front passed which is supposed to dissipate tomorrow. This is a good protected anchourage with a small entrance. The bay here at Puerto Cortes is about a mile and a half across from opening to village and three miles long. The front started just after we were reanchoured on the opposite side of the bay from the village again. That's a couple of days ago. We have been lucky to be in well protected anchourages when the weather has been bad this season so far.
We just listened to weather on the NW Caribbean net on SSB and are hopeful that this will dissipate tomorrow. I don't suppose we'll get much sympathy from our Canadian friends but we have had to put sweaters on. So we are hunkered down still. It's actually relaxing because we are well dug in and feel lucky to be in this situation as the wind howls. Our empty 30gal. water tank is almost half full with rain water. Maybe we'll be able to finish filling it today. We have enough flour to make bread once more. Our food is getting quite skimpy so we are keeping an eye on that and rationing. Sure wish a fisherman would come by with fish but don't think anyone is going out. We have a canned ham and a can of fish and some cheese, two little tetra packs of vegetables and a little cole slaw and some canned corn and two cans of brown beans, some refried beans, some oatmeal that we'll finish off today, a package of Maria biscuits and lots of olives. Also mustard, mayo and ketchup and you know ketchup is a vegetable. An American president said so. Not many tea bags left and Sue and Bill (English background) always have tea in the morning. There'll be a real mutiny when they're gone. They're saving the used ones. Maybe I've gone on too much about food but we are starting to talk about it more than usual. Ray has entertained our guests with card tricks. Bill and Sue play cribbage. We play Scrabble, solitaire and read a lot. Also we've watched two movies at night on Bills computer, having lots of power from our wind generator. Bill and Sue say this cruise may lose some stars but maybe it's like a Betty Ford very expensive dieting centre. Bill says he has already lost 6" from his waist since they arrived Feb.25th.
Hope our kids aren't worrying about us. It's been a while since we've been able to contact anyone.Hoping for good weather news on the SSB.
Wed, Mar 7, 2012Bummer. We were all so hoping to get going today but alas, even though the sky is not overcast, the wind is still howling. Chris Parker, a cruisers weather forecaster, said that the front should dissipate today, maybe later. We could hear almost no weather this morning on the NW Caribbean net on the SSB radio.The propagation was very bad. We're going to see if we can pick up some other possible forecasts later on. But definitely a no go today again. Planning our menus. We have at least three more days before we will be checked into Cuba and able to go on shore. Ray passing time on Wishbone Bill passing time on Wishbone. Sue passing time on Wishbone.
Sat, Mar 10, 2012So we headed for la Caloma two days ago to get diesel and it was quite a rigamarole. We took eleven hours to go twenty miles tacking into wind and waves because we were almost out of diesel and were assured we could get it there. They told us to anchour with the fishing fleet and call on VHF in the morning. Then they told us to call later in the morning and we wanted to get diesel and move on, sweet as they were. So they arranged to have a doctor to come out to the boat and check us out and an agricultural guy and someone who inspected the boat and others so that we could be temporarily in even though it is not now an international port of entry. They really went to a lot of trouble so we could get diesel and some food. I'm sure after they inspected the boat they could see that we were pretty much out of food. Of course it took all day but they had an immigration officer accompany us. The guarda office and the ice house for the fishermen at La Caloma, Cuba. Ray raising the Cuban flag after our semi-check-in in La Caloma Fishermen from La Caloma showing off their muscles as we were leaving as we were leaving too. Last night we left at 4PM, with about a dozen guys on the dock who had helped us get what we needed waving, and sailed all night to come to Nueva Gerona which we were told at Maria la Gorda and at la Caloma was an internationalport of entry. But it's not! Most of the sail was very nice with a full moon and flat water and a nice breeze but it did kick up a bit for the last few hours and we planned to anchour outside before going in the river in the morning. On the chart it looked like a perfect anchourage but it wasn't. We went aground and had a hard time getting off with the wind strong by then pushing us on. Eventually we did get off and reanchoured for a couple of hours sleep before comming up the river to find we can't check in here. The wind in the anchourage blows hard and then drops to nothing and keeps repeating that. We are wondering if it's something to do with the steep lumpy hills here. Sue and Bill were going to take off from la Coloma when it seemed like they were checking us in at there but that was a mini check-in or something just so we could get diesel and food, not allowed to go on shore otherwise. Then they had planned to leave from here on Isla de la Juventud but no luck here either. Everyone tells us Cayo Largo is definitely an international port of entry and we can't go on shore here but the immigration officer acompanied Bill somewhere so he could phone his kids who will phone ours to let them know we are alive. Apparently that was quite the procedure too. They do seem to be really trying to accomodate us without breaking any rules but even the officials don't seem very well informed. So we'll leave early tomorrow to go to Cayo Largo, probably two days. Hope the weather holds. Bye from Vonny and Ray with Sue and Bill on Wishbone.
Bye for now from Vonny and Ray on Wishbone
Hi everyone. We had not planned to go to Isla Mujeres but are anchored here now. Last night at El Cid Marina south of Cancun, Mexico, we had great entertainment on the dock. Val and Ray from the yacht Valkyrie set up on the dock with guitar, key board and microphone and played and sang. They are very professional and we figured they must be used to performing. It was a wonderful surprise. They will be in Cayo Largo, Cuba, when we will be there and our son, Jesse and his wife and kids will be there at an all inclusive too. I hope Val and Ray will grace us with another performance. Val and Ray entertaining.
We left the dock this morning at 6AM. The wind and waves were stronger and bigger than we wanted. If we had stuck with it maybe they would have laid down later on in the day but after we thought we were manageable with a reef in our sail and the engine a little slower it seemed to build again and after comming off of a couple of big waves our topping lift broke. We use a spare halyard as a secondary topping lift so our big wishbone boom didn't come down on us, but we were also taking on a little water through a grease cup for our rudder post. It's not serious but not something we want to leave unattended so we decided to come to Isla Mujeres, arriving around noon. The topping lift is now jury-rigged and Ray has apoxied the grease cup attachment where the threads are shot. It needs to cure overnight.Ray working on the grease cup with Bill. So much of the time everything is all pulled out for work to be done.
Ray had hosed Wishbone all down with fresh water while we were at the dock at El Cid. It gets salty so fast, especially when you take a few waves.
We have found out that there is a cruisers net here at 8:30AM, so will hope to get weather on that in the morning, though Bill has downloaded some weather when we were at El Cid too. If things look OK we'll try again tomorrow for Cuba.
Fri, Mar 2, 2012So we are finally in Cuba but not officially yet. We left at 9AM day before yesterday and motored directly into the east wind all day and all night and all day, just being able to carry a sail for the last afternoon, and of course dealing with the north running current. It took us fifteen miles to show no depths comming out of Isle Mujeras. The deepest it read was 505', then --- when the depth sounder couldn't read any deeper. Before we dropped our anchor yesterday at 5PM at Maria la Gorda we had no depths until a quarter of a mile from shore. It was a nice quiet flat anchorage and we were happy to hit the sack. The officials contacted us by VHF and let us know that the next place we would be able to check in is Nueva Gerona in Isla de la Juventud and of course we can't come off of our boat and onto shore before we are checked in. We probably should have checked in at the west end of Cuba but we would have to go up and around and down between two shoals and then all back around and down around the south west corner of Cuba so decided not to do that. It would have added so much distance.
Sue and I worked it out so that we each did 2.5 hr. watches, us being 8PM to 1AM so we had a good sleep from 1to 6AM. Also, we had the half moon which set around 1AM. Pretty clever, aye? Ray and Bill are very accommodating. Sue and I did lots of star gazing when we were up together for our watches, seeing Orion move around in his part of the sky and watching the big dipper whose handle started out in the sea rotate up and around the North star. We watched Venus then Jupiter then the moon set. They were all one above the other and we watched the Southern Cross and the fake Southern cross come up and we think we figured out which is which.
Yesterday a pod of dolphins came leaping toward us from what seemed quite a distance. There were a lot of them and it's always such fun to watch them frolic around. They always seem so joyful. We watched a flock of frigate birds diving and feeding. There seemed to be a school of fish close to the surface trying to escape an underwater predator. So the poor things must have predators above and below. Also, we saw a big leatherback turtle swimming along. It must have been at least three feet long.
Besides those nice things it was a long bouncy slog. We just have to do our watch and try to be comfortable the rest of the time. It seems like we are waiting to do our watch or for it to be over or waiting for the waves to settle down a bit or just to get there. And we seem to be bobbing up and down and sideways and not going anywhere. To sleep it's noisy below with the engine on, the boat creeking and the dishes smashing around until we stuffed towels around them in the cupboard to slow up their sliding around. Of course there is a lot of motion and you have to really hang onto things when moving around. Not bad weather, sun and cloud, about fifteen knots of wind from the east and roughly five foot waves most of the time, varying.
Today we had the anchor up at 6AM and came to an excellent anchourage at Puerto Cortes, dropping our hook about 5PM. On the way in there is a narrow, shallow entrance. Our guide book and some extra information and Bills computer program all didn't seem to be working. Some fishermen in their little boat with a one lunger engine who stayed behind us until we were confused came around in front of us and led us in, the dear souls. We wanted them to come back because we want to give them some of these gifts in the big bag that Ray is still sleeping with but off they went toward the town. I hope we will see them tomorrow. We need to get some diesel fuel. Don't know what the chances are here. And we are happily planing to go nowhere tomorrow. This is starting to feel like a boat delivery and that's not what we want. We are grateful that Sue and Bill stuck with us for these long sails. They will fly home from Isla de la Juventud. A front is supposed to be comming through tomorrow night and blow for three days. Hope we won't be in trouble with the officials. We figure it will take us two days to get to Nueva Gerona from here to check in.
Sat, Mar 3, 2012Puerto Cortes, also called Laguna de la Cortes, is a very protected anchourage. We understand from the North West Caribbean net that we could get clearly this morning that a front is comming through over the next few days so we'll stay put even though we can't get off the boat. On our way to Maria la Gorda another boat contacted us. Apparently they were docked beside us at Monkey Bay in Guatamala's Rio Dulce. We were not on board most of the time and couldn't remember him but he told us about the front too. It's windy so we have lots of power from our wind generator. Our propane water heater which is above and behind our head (toilet) has been leaking lately so today Ray and Bill had a look at it and Ray was worried if he blocked up where it leaks he might screw up something and finally decided to put our big sponge under it and squeeze it out every so often. Also he fixed up our jury-rigged topping lift a little more. I made bread and cleaned up a bit. Sue made coleslaw with the last of our fresh veggies. We were hoping to get some fish from the fishermen today but if they are sailing on their little boat or rowing or chugging along we don't want to wave them over when they are going directly to and from the opening and the village, so canned fish tonight. Sorry, some of this is probably a bit boring. Do hope we can get deisel fuel here.
Bye for now from Vonny and Ray with crew, Sue and Bill on Wishbone
Wed, Feb 22, 2012Visited the Myan ruins at Tulum today. Felt like real tourists being shuffled around. At the entrance of this spectacular resort this morning they wanted to know what tour we were going to go on. "Swimming with dolphins", "Xcaret historic Mexican theme park", "Tulum", or whatever. There were so many tourists at Tulum and lots of stores. It almost seemed like our bus was just delivering customers to the stores. But our guide was very informed and we did learn a lot. He told us that only fourty-one years ago this area was all jungle. Now it seems that there is a resort every mile or so.
Our guide showing pictures of the building in the top right corner that show the sun comming through the opening at the summer solstice and the moon comming through at the winter solstice demonstrating the Mayans understanding of astrology. Also, he explained to us how Dec. 21, 2012 is only the end of a 25125 year astrological cycle according to the Mayan calendar when all our planets will be lined up and then another cycle starts so we can relax if we're worried about the end of the world.
Bill likes spam and we've been having it every so often. It always makes us think of Emil and Olena who we sailed with many years ago. Emil taught us how to make gourmet spam as his mother used to make for his family when they arrived as immigrants in Canada. Also, Emil used to say that he loves Tropical nights. We do too.
Thu, Feb 23, 2012The dock we are on at El Cid Marina and Resort is near the opening to the marina and a SE wind is quite strong making waves so we are bobbing around a lot and being blown onto the dock. There always has to be something. We don't have to worry about dragging here and it is nice to be able to leave the fridge on and use lights and fans as much as we want. The thirty dollars a night includes power and water and Internet when we can get it.
We are considering going to Cuba directly from here. Here is Puerto Moralos, Mexico, and it is near Cancun. It would be a little longer than going from Isla Mujeras but a better angle from here to the west end of Cuba, especially with the northerly flowing current and the prevailing easterly winds. But for now we'll stay put till the weather settles. Today was a work day: laundry, fuel, water and Bimini/dodger mending.
Fri, Feb 24, 2012They have the red flag up today. Fishermen are not allowed to go out because of the wind and at the resort people are not allowed to go in the water at the beach. We got some mahimahi from the fishermen yesterday. Delicious. Tulum and all the tourists.
Sun, Feb 26, 2012Looking at the weather now our plan is to leave for Cuba tomorrow. Armando, the marina manager says if we go to the office at 8AM we should be all checked out by 10AM. That's more or less when we'd like to leave. We just finished one of our propane tanks this morning and it would be nice to have it filled before we go to Cuba but not if we have to wait longer to leave. I think we have enough propane to get through Cuba.
Yesterday, Saturday, we went to Cancun with someone here who was bringing a guest to the airport and had a rental car. We tried to find the marine store there but we're unsuccessful until after it had closed. We have a buster but jury-rigged ignition switch for our engine and one of our fenders is busted from all the bouncing around we were doing on the dock. Last night we moved to the other side of the dock and the weather has settled anyhow. I'll send this update because maybe we'll be in Cuba for the next one.Wishbone at a dock at El Cid Marina Resort in Puerto Morelos
Bye for now from Vonny and Ray on Wishbone
Thu, Feb 16, 2012We just listened to the Belize marine weather report on VHF and things look mild enough. Good we can get it here. Yesterday Ray and I took the ferry from Cay Caulker to San Pedro to check out of Belize and this morning we will head for Bahia de la Ascencion in Mexico. This will be our longest sail this season. We think it will take about thirty hours. It will be a relief to be outside the barrier reef. As much as we appreciate that it keeps the waters behind it relatively flat, we are getting pretty sick of tiptoeing through the shoals and coral heads and reefs. We have decided to go out of the reef south of here. It should be a simpler exit that the one at San Pedro but of course there are lots of shoals, etc. I do hope it goes well because our dinghy will be on our coach roof for the passage so we won't be able to push ourselves off with it. Cay Caulker has been a pleasant surprise with its sand streets and only bicycles and golf carts for transportation. Belize is very big for diving with all the reefs.
Yesterday in San Pedro Ray was able to get the right size Allan key that he needed to take our auto helm mechanics apart. He and Bill did yesterday afternoon. The tech guy that Ray spoke to on the phone said it should be obvious what was wrong and it was. The belt was shredded with little bits all over the place. Amazing it worked as well as it did. They replaced it with a new belt and put it back together and it seems to disengage fine now. It and the engine have always been so reliable on these long passages. Hope they will today and tonight and we should be able to carry our sail as we head north with a predicted ESE wind 10 to 20 knots today and 5 to15 tonight with seas 3' to 6' today and 3' to 5' tonight.Cay Caulker with the barrier reef in the background
We got out of Belize going aground a couple of times but plowing through on the way to the reef. Pardon the language but we were SO shitting ourselves getting through the reef. It was a big relief to be through and not have to worry about the depths though it would have been nicer to have a bit flatter seas. Bill and I have the weakest stomachs with Ray and Susan's the strongest. We were lucky to have a good weather window with mainly easterly winds and no rain. Even though we knew the skinny moon would not come up until 2:44 AM we could see a horizon with the stars. We zoomed up the coast of Mexico at seven knots with the two knot northerly current. We usually try to make five knots. The passage that we thought would take thirty hours took twenty four.
Bahia de la Ascencion is a big bay and it took us two hours after entering to anchour because we had to go around a big sand bore. We anchored in a fairly remote place and Fernando came by to see if we were OK. He told us if we went around a couple of more points we would have beer and restaurants and whatever we wanted.
Sat, Feb. 18, 2012We were happy to rest and clean up the boat and ourselves where we were but came today, in further and can see a bit of a village. Sue had made lots of passage food before we left and we cleaned it up when we arrived, not having to prepare anything. Pelicans in San Pedro
Bye for now from Vonny and Ray with crew, Sue and Bill on Wishbone
Sun, Feb 12, 2012Hi everyone. We did pick our way further into the little anchorage at Drowned Cay, a finger between two fingers of mangroves and are very glad we did. The water is flat and our wind generator sticks up over the mangroves so we have plenty of power with the strong wind. We've been here two days and will stay till things settle down. Now we have too much power and have to keep turning our wind generator off because our batteries get too high even though we have the fridge on and cranked up high and are playing music now and are not shy about using fans or lights. It seems there is not enough or too much. Lots of reading, some dinghying through the mangroves, our routes are prepared into Mexico. We are out of booze.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012Yesterday we came to Cay Caulker through Porto Stuck and some other tricky places not even attempting to put up our sail. Porto Stuck is well named. We did get stuck. Our waypoints did not agree with the physical evidence. We were to stay between some stakes on one side and a tower on the other but our waypoints said we should go outside of that. Bill and I both put our waypoints in separately and they were the same ones that Ian and Jan from the boat Joques Lodge gave us and that were in the guide, so don't know what that was about. Ray felt we should go a certain way after we got ungrounded and he picked us through a shallow but doable route. His instincts are usually good. We were hand steering with our small wheel, not connected to the auto helm and are hoping we can find out why our autohelm won't disengage while we are here by email or phone.
Cay Caulker is a lovely little place. We won't mind staying here while we get fresh water, fuel, some groceries and laundry done. Ray and I will take the ferry over to San Pedro to check out of Belize maybe tomorrow. We were talking to some other cruisers here yesterday and one of them is going to give us some waypoints to go out of the barrier reef a bit south of here. Looks like it would be simpler than getting out at San Pedro even though we have to backtrack a bit. I must admit that I am looking at the wind which is ESE for the next couple of days and wondering how often there is any south in it. Usually it seems to be NE and with the current running north along the coast of Mexico it would be nice not to have any north in our wind when we do our overnight to Bahia de la Ascention.
In Plasentia there is a threat of cruise ships stopping there but the locals don't seem to want it.
Below are photos of a typical fishing boat for these parts, dolphins leading us into Cay Caulker and a sunset at Cay Caulker.
Bye for now from Vonny and Ray on Wishbone
Wed, Feb 8, 2012Hi all. I think today may be Feb. 8th. We are anchored finally and am I ever glad. At the restaurant last night there was a guy who was a computer programmer and he helped us with our IPad when it seemed to be frozen. So that last update got sent off and we could check our email. Today we came from Placentia to the Tobacco cays. At first we thought we would be anchored by 2:30pm and as the day went along with winds and waves building on our bow we revised our anchoring time to about 4:30. We came around the east side of the Tobacco cays to where we thought we would anchor and went aground. Our heat alarm went off and cooling water stopped comming out of the back of our boat at the same time. Ray opened up the engine compartment and replaced the belt for the waterpump as we were aground on turtle grass. We put the dinghy motor from the pad on the back of Wishbone onto the dinghy and Ray and Bill got into the dinghy and pushed us around back and forth for a long time before we got free and were floating.
Then we headed down between the reef on the outside and the islands in the inside toward another anchorage which would have taken quite a while and it was getting near 6pm when Ray said there was a lot of sand bottom and we were going to drop the anchour. It was about 17' deep. It's good that the water is very clear here and we can see the bottom. I am SO glad we are anchored and can stop worrying about the depth even if it is quite open all around us. In Belize if you get help to get off the ground they charge you a lot of money and if you go aground on a reef they give you a big fine. Of course they need to protect their reefs. The wind has dropped and we hope it will stay light all night. We will stay here tomorrow. There should be good snorkeling near by.
Sue's book, Central America on a shoe string, says that the best thing you can do in Belize is to have a snorkelling/fishing/sailing trip from Cay Caulker to Placentia and we are on our way from Placentia to Cay Caulker and should have good snorkeling and fishing her so how lucky can you get? Dear Sue made us two nutritious meals today while we were underway and cleaned up from them. Tonight when we were finally anchored we had rum drinks and tostitos.
Fri, Feb 10, 2012We had good snorkeling yesterday in Tobacco Cay and are on our way almost straight north now to Drowned Cays, about seven miles east of Belize City. In our head we put the toilet paper in a bag, not the head and yesterday Sue requested that we not use a clear bag for that. I like to use a small bag and thought that the bread bag had enough writing on it for camouflage but apparently not. We had our anchor up this morning at 6:30 and the sky and water were such a beautiful turquoise colour. The sea between the reef and the mainland, about three miles, is flat and we are motor sailing to keep our speed up with a light north east breeze. The temperature is 25C. This morning seems perfect. I should mention, especially for some cruisers heading this way, that we paid $20US at Stuart Cay because it is one marine reserve and we stayed one night ($5 each) and $40 at Tobacco Cay because we stayed two nights and it was a different marine reserve.
Sat, Feb 11, 2012It has become quite windy overnight and we are hobby horsing a bit but our anchor is holding. We think we should have gone further into the finger of an anchorage. We are sort of at the entrance but Ian and Jan on Joques Lodge gave us this waypoint and said it's where they anchor. I thought we would be surrounded by mangroves. We may just stay here today and chill or work on our route from Cay Caulker up through San Pedro and to Bahia de la Ascencion in Mexico. That will be our longest sail this season we think. If we drag we'll work our way further in. Something is wrong with our auto helm. It engages and works fine but we are having increasing trouble disengaging it. I think we can get Internet and hopefully telephone at Cay Caulker. Maybe we can find something out there.
Bye for now from Vonny and Ray on Wishbone
Mon, Feb 6th, 2012Since we've been in Belize the weather has been fine. We think we left all the rain in the Rio Dulce. Getting out of Stuart Cay yesterday just north east of Punta Gorda, Belize we had numerous groundings even though the sun was fairly high. We still couldn't see where the shoals were but when we did get into a channel of 20' to 30' we had no more problems to New Haven anchorage. To get off the shoals Bill and Ray put the dinghy down. We had planned to leave it hauled up and resting on the side of the boat for our passage which we anticipated would be a motor trip. They got into the dinghy and pushed the bow of Wishbone. We learned that that was better than pushing the boat from behind in the Bahamas.
This anchorage just has mangroves all around with one totally dilapidated shack where apparently "hard luck Charlie Carlson" used to live. He grew fruit trees and cleared an area which is all overgrown now. He and his wife were killed in a boating accident so maybe he was aptly named. Today we are heading north to Placentia. It is supposed to be a quaint little town. Since our fridge has had to be off a lot of the time if we didn't have enough power comming in from sun and wind our frozen meat thawed and has all been cooked but there is some liquid from it that makes our fridge smell worse each day so tonight I cleaned it out. We had to take out the three inches of insulating foam because the stinky stuff has seeped into it. Hopefully we can somehow get it cleaned out and really sealed so we can have the advantage of that insulation. I guess I'm going to have to send this because I can't get it off my screen to check mail. I am including a picture of Guatamalan women that Bill took because I like them even though we are beyond Guatamala.
Bye for now from Vonny and Ray on Wishbone
Sat, Feb 4th, 2012Hello everyone. A few days ago we finally left Monkey Bay Marina in Guatamalas Rio Dulce with hugs and goodbyes all around. It felt a bit like leaving home. The night before we left we had a pot luck with BBQ chickens with beer cans up their butts. One of the cruisers, Art, called them violated chickens. They are tasty and moist done that way. As we motored out our dinghy painter (tow line) slipped off and Efrain, who lives and works there, jumped into his launcha and brought our dinghy out to us, not a very slick exit. We went down the river to anchor in Texan Bay. The marina was owned by Mike and Sherry the last time we were there almost two years ago. Every morning Mike would be chopping up his marijuana and a lady on her boat made special brownies every afternoon. Apparently they attracted an unsavory crowd eventually and got in trouble with the law. Now a young couple are doing renovations and separating garbage and want it to be more family oriented. But they will still take you down the river to Livingston so you can check out of the country and take off with your boat the next morning and not have to stop at Livingston then. It's a good thing because the check out did take quite a while.
At Monkey Bay Marina Ray had put 3" of sealed insulating styrofoam in the bottom of our refrigerator, hoping to lose less battery power trying to keep it cool. At Texan Bay we were worried about our batteries. With no sun or wind for power we had to run our Honda 2000 generator quite a bit and turn our fridge off quite a bit so our frozen meat thawed. Last night we cooked it all up. At Texan Bay I thought it was interesting that the professional looking bar tender in her little black suit got into her dugout canoe when her shift was over and started paddling home while talking on her cell phone. Seems like it has been raining in the Rio for weeks and apparently it will be for another week, but we are anxious to get going.
Yesterday we had the anchor up and were away by 7am in the rain. Bill said it would stop by 8 and he was going to be in big trouble if it didn't. It did stop by 8 but temporarily. There were a lot of line squalls and heavy rain and wind on the nose on our short but time consuming passage to Punta Gorda where we checked into Belize. I'm glad it was Bill and Sue who were with us. It's hard to imagine many people appreciating the experience. Bill was sea sick and he hit his head as he came out of the cabin. Our companionway cover had been pulled over to try and keep the rain and spray out of the cabin. Bill had blood running down his nose from his forehead but didn't seem to be too bothered. Also, he has a lot of open sores where he scratches his bug bites. They love him. But it would be hard to find someone more enthusiastic. Sue doesn't get sea sick and cooks and cleans up below and appreciates the adventure with all its ups and downs, not complaining. By the time we were checked into Belize yesterday at Punta Gorda it was getting on so we wanted to go to the nearest possible anchorage in the Belize cays as the anchorage at Punta Gorda is untenable in an east wind. Our guide says the adventuresome sailor can pick their way through the shoals in good light. We stupid sailors picked our way through the shoals with our guide book and Bill's computer program and charts to Stuart Cay in poor light, going aground twice but on sand and not having much trouble getting off. We were anchored by 6pm.Bill and Sue in the Palapa at Monkey Bay
Today we eventually decided to stay put. We are all a bit baffed out from yesterday and there is still a bit of rain. For the brief periods that the sun does shine we can see the shoals. We hope to tip toe through the shoals and reefs tomorrow to New Haven. It looks like a good all weather anchorage. We have paid for two weeks in Belize and think we should be on our way to Mexico by then. It seems there are lots of places to anchor in Belize so should be all day sails here.
I have added photos, not in order, of Sue and Bill, Ray and I in the main palapa at Monkey Bay Marina, also one of buying groceries from a boat from Casa Guatamala, a local orphanage, that comes to the dock and one of going down the Rio Dulce. Bill took a little video that I can't seem to attach so will send separately.
Bye for now, Vonny and Ray on Wishbone
Wed, Jan 25th, 2012I feel I have been remiss. We arrived back on Wishbone, which is in the water, at Monkey Bay Marina in Guatamala's Rio Dulce two weeks ago. I've been enjoying Terry Folace's book, Best Laid Plans before I go to sleep at night and not doing any writing. I'm going to see if I have the wherewithal to include a picture or two with this update.
We always seem to have lots of projects on board. Each season since our mould disasters in Panama we are changing another sectional of the interior wood from oiled to varnished, so it needs to be teak cleaned, sanded and at least four coats of varnish with increasingly finer sand papering between each coat. One more season and all the interior wood should be switched over. Besides it looking brighter, mould can't get a toehold on the glossy varnished wood nearly as readily as on the oiled wood.
Ray has installed a new foot pump and bilge pump and sweated profusely through lots of other jobs. We seem to always have so much to do but are stopping now. Just this morning we think our dinghy motor is finally fixed and our friends Bill and Sue Jaine have arrived this afternoon from Canada. The cushion recovering will have to wait for next season again.
When we arrived the exterior and interior of the boat were in good shape. Efrain, who works for the marina and is the father of a little family that lives behind the marina had cleaned the exterior of the boat and his sister, Helen who also works here, had cleaned the interior. Efrains thirteen year old son Allan had been hauled up on the halyard to clean the underside of our wishbone boom too. This has been a good place to leave a boat. Not too expensive and good care. Ray usually does the dishes in the kitchen palapa (an open sided pole and thatch building with a wood floor). There's jungle all around here and no roads in. You have to come and go by boat. Ray likes that he can splash all around while doing the dishes and even let the sink run right over if he wants to. There's a hose beside the sink too if he wants some extra fun.
Ray got a two pronged bite from something that looked a bit odd but nothing seemed to come of it. We do have a fair number of bug bites. Mosquitoes or noseeums or whatever. While Ray was spray painting some plugs from the interior lining of the boat whose finish had come off one of them flipped out of the work palapa and into the swamp floor. This area is officially a rain forest and there are wooden walkways joining the palapas. Some are totally over water. He watched where it went and then ventured into the squishy forest floor, going up to his ankles in muck but he got the plug back.
This marina holds about twenty boats max and at the moment there are three couples from Texas working on their boats before they head to the Honduras Bay Islands, an Italian couple who have had engine problems and are heading to Panama and a Canadian guy single handing who can't decide what he wants to do. One of the Texan women, who has a great sense of humor, noted that the women who live around here have two styles, Mayan or whore. It may be a bit over stated but I do see what she means.
I have managed to put three pictures here but didn't figure out yet how to put an explanation under each one. But as you can see they are Wishbone at the dock and Ray in the kitchen palapa and in the work shop. These were actually taken last year when we went nowhere but things look pretty much the same except another boat is not outside of us any more so we should have no problem getting away hopefully next week.
This year we plan to head north outside of Belize and Mexico to Isla Mujeres then cross over to Cuba and go east along the south side, storing Wishbone either in Cuba or the Bahamas next summer.
Bye for now, Vonny and Ray on Wishbone
Wed, Apr 27th, 2011We arrived back at Wishbone, our 30' Nonsuch sailboat Sunday, April 24th after spending an extra night in Guatamala City because our bags did not arrive with us as they should have. Wishbone has been here at Monkey Bay Marina in the Rio Dulce, Guatamala for around a year. It is fresh water in the river and this was the first time we left it in the water while we were back in Canada since we started cruising in 2002. It's 3PM now and just over 100F, 38C (in the shade) so we are melting always, especially Ray, who does have a problem with the heat but doesn't mind cold weather. We are planning to go back to Canada gradually as we work our way around the Caribbean, across the top, down the Eastern Caribbean, across the bottom from east to west and now we plan to be heading north, but not this year. We are getting such a late start that we will just work on Wishbone for four weeks and then fly back to Canada, hoping to get an earlier start next year.
My dad died March 30th and we spent a lot of time with him and my mom before that. Since Sunday Ray has gotten our dinghy up and running so we have transportation, there are no roads to the marina here in the jungle. He's installed a new pump assembly for our head, toilet for non sailors, so it's functional and not leaking. That's a treat. Two of our four interior fans were worn out and Ray replaced them today but they blow the wrong way. He thinks switching the wires will get us a breeze. Thank God for the other two that we sleep in front of. Our refrigerator was giving us trouble last season and doesn't seem to be working at all now so we'll have to see if someone can look at that and on and on. Oh, and I've sanded all the blisters off of our exterior wood and was anxious to get a sealing coat of varnish on it today but alas, our varnish must have been removed from our bags because we don't have it and didn't notice when we were stashing our stuff. We're hoping to get the kind we want tomorrow, no luck today. Hope we don't have to settle for some other type. I love Epifanes. I won't bore you with all the details but we have plenty to keep us busy for four weeks. I should also recover our interior cushions. Some of them were destroyed with our mould problems last year. When we arrived this year we were delighted to find the boat washed outside including the boot line which we had expected to be very scummy. The inside was nice and clean too, so we'll be sure to have Helen air it out once a week after we're gone this time too. May 12th. Still working away. This will be the only update we send this year since we're not going anywhere. We were unable to get Epifanes marine varnish so are using the local one which is a quarter or a fifth of the price of Epifanes and does do an excellent job with lots of UV protection. As the song says "If you can't be with the one you love then love the one you're with" and we are learning to love the local varnish.
We ended up having to replace our fridge at the tune of $1350.00US because Ray took our old one out and helped to instal the new one. Otherwise it would have been $1500. Maybe it's true that BOAT means break out another thousand and cruising is boat maintenance in exotic places. Ray continues to fix and install things and I continue to varnish. Eight coats on the exterior wood. They say a coat for every month in the Tropics and we have some left from before. Four coats inside in our main cabin that we are changing gradually from oiled wood to varnished wood. We had such a problem with mould in Panama and mould has a much harder time getting a hold on the shiny surface. Also it brightens up the interior. There are about twenty marinas in this marina district of the Rio Dulce and around a thousand boats here when people are not out sailing. Many of the Mayans especially don't read or write. The bank will take a thumb print as a signature. A sixteen year old Mayan girl who was staying at the marina for a while could not even write her own name. To get a drivers license here you need to know the limit for passengers in the back of a pickup truck. It's fifteen. I'm sure this is a very boring update and I've gone on far too long. Hopefully next season we'll be heading north outside of Belize and Mexico to Cuba.
Bye for now, Vonny and Ray on Wishbone.
PS. Our son and daughter in law gave us a bag of toys without batteries that we were able to pass onto Casa Guatamala, an orphanage just down river from us and they were, of course, very happy to get them. Also, looks like the cushion covers will have to wait till next year.
Fri, Apr 23, 2010Hi everyone. So we checked into Guatamala at Livingston at the mouth of the Rio Dulce. After we'd finished the formalities we anchored close to town because it was almost dark. Everyone says you have to lock everything up. We slept in the cockpit last night and so did Terry and Sandy on Gambit. Ray had the search light and pepper spray by his bed and I had the camera and the fog horn. Terry said he had a small gun. I'm surprised. Later we found out that he thinks it's a good idea to say that over the VHF in case anyone is listening. By this morning we had not been boarded and still had all our stuff. This morning we slowly came about ten miles up the Rio to Texan Bay to anchour. There's a marina here and it's safe to anchour. The river is spectacular but I'll quote what John Lloyd Stephens wrote about "The River That Swallows Gringos" in 1841. He can describe it better than I. "In a few moments we entered the Rio Dulce. On each side, rising perpendicularly from three to four hundred feet, was a wall of living green. Trees grew from the water's edge, with dense unbroken foliage, to the top; not a spot of barrenness was to be seen; and on both sides, from the tops of the highest trees, long tendrils descended to the water, as if to drink and carry life to the trunks that bore them. It was, as it's name imports, a Rio Dulce, a fairy scene of Titan land, combining exquisite beauty with colossal grandeur. As we advanced the passage turned, and in a few minutes we lost sight of the sea, and were enclosed on all sides by the forest wall; but the river, although showing us no passage, still invited us onward."
Sat, Apr 24, 2010The sun has been down for a long time but it's still 30C and no wind. Thank God for fans. Our generator is running for power. We're in Texas Bay. Sherry and Mike, who are from Texas, started a marina here about five years ago. Mike has a very raspy voice and such an accent. He says even the Texans can't understand him because his daddy came from Mississippi. We've done some hiking and dinghying around through the mangrove swamps. It amazes us that people live in the mangrove jungles in a building on stilts on the water with their dugout canoes and fish traps. It must be so buggy in there and no breeze but I suppose there is no land to buy.
Sum, Apr 25, 2010The heat is ridiculous. We went to a fund raiser for a local school on a nearby island by dinghy this morning. The dinghy pontoons are scorching. The dinghy seat is and the floor is too. We couldn't stay long because we were so streaming with sweat and felt like we might perish. When we got back to the boat we jumped in the water. It's not very cool but at least it is fresh water. We've mover along a couple of bays to Gringo Bay. It's 3PM, 37C and we are hoping for a breeze and staying in the shade of the bimini. Our shower bag is in the fridge so that will be exiting. Ray says that way it puts out the fire. Apr.28th. We are at our final destination for this year. For the first time since we left Toronto in 2002 we'll be leaving Wishbone in fresh water here at Monkey Bay Marina while we go back to Canada for the summer. Hope that works out OK. Apparently they take quite good care of your boat and will clean it and open it up to air it out when the weather is good. Most of the places along the river here have no roads to them. The transportation is by boat. It's the same for this marina. We can get to a town, Frontera, by boat that does have a road to Guatamala city from it. The marina which is all on stilts backs into a swampy jungle and the howler monkeys at dawn and dusk are really close and loud. We have a long list of jobs to do on the boat. It seems like we'll be able to get our floor replaced here and we'd like to do a bit of inland traveling before we head back to Canada.
Thu, Apr 29, 2010Last night we had a storm with thunder and lightening. There are two guard dogs here and one of them is afraid of storms. Last night she hopped into our cockpit and then into our cabin and laid on the floor all curled up and afraid. I had to nag Ray until he woke up and took her off the boat and tossed her into her nice dog house. We work away all day on the boat until the heat gets too bad in the afternoon. I am working on the exterior wood and Ray is teak cleaning and sanding the interior wood. We will varnish the interior wood instead of continuing to oil it. With a shiny sealed surface it is harder for mould to grow on it and it has darkened a lot over the years. Especially this year with our mould problems. But there is a lot of wood so it will be an ongoing project.
Sun, May 2, 2010We find the heat oppressive. Everyday is in the 90sF with the heat index 120F to130F. We work away on Wishbone taking it easier in the afternoon and easily have enough to keep us busy for a month but would like to be back in Canada by the beginning of June. I'll finish off this update not knowing if we will ever be able to send them. We have flights booked for June 7th and will work on Wishbone with hopefully a couple of little inland trips until then. Finally the weather is better with a high of only 88F today. May.29th. The temperature is OK now but it rains a LOT. Hope you all had a good winter too and we'll see many of you in the summer.
Thu, Mar 25, 2010Before making a passage, a long one especially, we are always anxious about how the sea state and wind will be. This did turn out to be a terrific weather window and for most of it we were able to sail without motor at more than five knots. We left Providencia at 2AM so we could arrive in daylight and the wind was strong (up to 32 knots) with fairly big seas in the beginning. Leaving in the dark was nerve wracking even with some lights. We were considerably oversailed to start so put a reef in but were able to shake it out during the next day. We were traveling with a French couple on their 42' sloop "Sandy 2". Another boat left the anchorage at 10PM going the same way but we haven't seen them since. We sort of expected to see them when we got here but they must have moved on. They would have arrived at the Hobbies in the dark and we did have to go around a reef that wasn't on the chart. The French couple, Claud and Sylvie, caught a 1.5 meter fish that seems to be in the barracuda family and had us over for dinner tonight. They are safe eat in these waters. In the Bahamas there is danger of siguteria poisoning with them. Ray caughtt a barracuda too and we saw no pirates. So of course we were worrying for nothing. We arrived around noon of the second day. We always feel so grubby from the salt air and are tired and the boat is a mess after a passage. I like this anchorage in the Hobbies or Cajones (meaning boxes or coffins in Spanish). It's named because of the huge mounds of lobster traps on the little island in off season which is now. Lobster season starts July 1st and goes for 6 months.
There is a reef in front of us with a good breeze coming across it and the water is swimming pool coloured. The reef looks high enough that we should be able to walk on it. The little island is to our starboard. Two young guys caretake this fishing camp for six months. They are really nice and happy to have company. They cleaned our fish and Ray gave them half of it. They gave us each a green coconut that they cut a hole in the top of so we could drink the juice. We will go in tomorrow with some gifts, a wind up flashlight, some playing cards, etc.
Sat, Mar 27, 2010Yesterday we six on our two boats went into the little island to visit. A fishing boat is here waiting for a belt for their water pump to be delivered by some other boat. There are four guys on the fishing boat who seem to know the care taking ones. The young men are so generous. They gave us more green coconuts that they opened again so we could drink the juice then cracked them open with their machetties so we could scoop out the soft coconut with a piece of shell. Ray asked if they had a conch that he could have the guts from to use for bait. They gave us eight conch cleaning them all first and putting the guts in a separate bag. They also gave us pieces of cooked fish to try. We had two frozen packages of four double chicken breasts each that we bought in Providencia and brought that to them with a package of cookies. They keep a few chickens for eggs. They have the coconuts and what they get from the sea. They have a fresh water tank that seems to be getting quite low and they seem very proud that they have everything they need. As Sylvie says "the less they have the more they give". We had the conch last night with Sylvie and Claud, a special treat. Sue made fresh bread too and we had the Cole slaw and chick pea salad that we made for our last passages but didn't eat on the way. And now all our wine is gone but we had a good time.
The weather seems settled and we listen on the SSB to the North Western Caribbean Net for reports. Our plan is to leave at daybreak tomorrow morning to arrive in Guanaja while the sun is still fairly high so we can see in the water. Tue. Mar.30th. We arrived in Guanaja yesterday. Yet another good weather window. Mostly we had the wind and waves on our quarter and a full moon so good visibility and good speed. And most importantly the waves were not too big. The first day we had dolphins frolicking on our bow for quite a while and for a bit as well on the second day. It is said that cruising is like driving across the desert in a motorhome at 5 MPH. There are definitely some similarities.
Checking into Honduras yesterday was the easiest and cheapest we've had for a long time. $3 US per person. Our first impression was not that great. We anchored temporarily by the town which is all crammed on a little island to keep away from the sand fleas. It is very interesting looking with canals and narrow streets. There are no cars here. A young guy latched onto us and wanted to show us around which we didn't want and then of course he wanted to be paid. Also, a Dutch boat here said that they had fuel siphoned out of their gas tank while they were tied to a dock in town. After we were checked in we came over to the anchorage and like it here much better. A German guy who has a restaurant beside the anchorage says that there is no serious crime here if you don't count the drug trade and that doesn't affect him. He says it's only petty theft and with the history of pirates it's just the way of life. He says people don't change all that much and they even steal from each other within families. It's just a lock it or loose it mentality. Our French friends cought a fish again on the passage and we had dinner on their boat tonight, eating their fish. The French sure are terrific cooks.
Tomorrow we'll take our dinghies through a canal to the other side of the island. It is supposed to be a good excursion.
Thu, Apr 1, 2010Yesterday during our excursion we stopped at the little airport in Guanaja beside the canal. A new airline just opened up. It flies between Guanaja, Roatan and La Ceiba on the mainland of Honduras. They use DC3s, also called Dakodas. Bill loves those planes. They were built 40yrs ago. So this morning Bill and Sue flew from Guanaja to La Ceiba in one and Ray and I are back on our own until Suzanne arrives on the 5th. It's only 35 miles to French Harbour in Roatan from our anchorage in Guanaha. The sea is almost flat. We have a light wind on our beam but must motor to keep our speed up.
Bye for now from Vonny and Ray on Wishbone
Hello everyone. Vonny and Ray from Wishbone here. Shortly after we had started cruising last winter Pocketmail went out of business and we were unable to send or receive. Since we've been back in Canada we bought an iPad and are trying to get up to speed on it. I intend to copy the updates from my Pocketmail into the iPad since we can't transfer them electronically because we can't find anyone with old enough equipment. So you'll be receiving them about one per week. There are five. It will of course be old news. But it's the best I can do. It is also good for us to have a record as our memories are not what they once were. So here we go.
Mar 16, 2010It seems like longer but we were only in San Andres for two days. Someone who was supposed to know about autopilots came out to look at ours and thought it might need oil. Ray had remembered reading in the manual that you shouldn't oil it so wasn't goin for that. The autopilot guy called over someone from a fishing boat that could speak English and he advised that if we were going to try and find someone in San Andres who knew something about our autopilot we were wasting our time. Bill, our guest noticed that the nut that was holding on the wheel at the helm was loose and tightened that. It worked perfectly from San Andres to Providencia. Our masthead light decided to work as well. A refrigerator guy came out to the boat in San Andres and measured something with dials. He said if it stops working we should turn it off for ten minutes then turn it on again. He said a lot of other stuff in Spanish that we didn't quite get. But it seems our refrigerator works when we have lots of power and sometimes even with not that much. So things are looking up on Wishbone. Most people buzz around in motor scooters in San Andres and the traffic can be very busy. We rented a golf cart one morning and drove around the island stopping for lunch and at two museums. One of them was Morgans Cave where it's thought that Henry Morgan hid gold. The other was a typical older island house. The young woman who showed us around had a twelve year old daughter but looked so young herself. She said girls on the island started having babies early, around fourteen years old. She and another young woman did an island dance for us in their bright colored wraps. They seemed to be enjoying themselves and their camaraderie. It was probably good that we were in the golf cart because I think the locals can tell we are tourists that way and may be more forgiving in traffic.
When we wanted to leave we planned to stage at a little island near the main island and take off during the night to arrive from our 55 mile trip to Providencia (another Columbian island) in daylight. But we were uncertain about our anchorage and with lots of reefs to go through even with a marked channel we decided to leave before dark to arrive in the morning. So we kept our speed appropriate to do that. We were heading NE and with the prevailing NE winds we knew it would be on our nose so didn't even put the sail up. Some sailors we are but it would have added so much more to the length of the trip to tack into the wind. This seems a beautiful little quiet island with lots of hiking and snorkelling so we want to stay a few days. On our next passage, just slightly shorter than our longest one, to the Hobbies (also called the Cajones) we may or may not stop at the Vivorillos first. We'll be heading NW so hopefully we can actually sail on that one. It is so hot here with businesses being closed from lunch until three or four o'clock that we've decided siestas in front of a fan and out of the sun are a good idea too. Mar.17th. Happy St. Patties Day. If you say that to someone here they don't seem to get it.
Today we rented motor scooters and drove around the island feeling like real tourists and stopping for lunch at "Miss Marys", a French Canadian woman who has a lovely restaurant on the beech. Most people get around on motor scooters here, often with a few people on one including babies and toddlers. Ray went to get two five gallon jerry jugs of fuel this afternoon. A motor scooter taxi took him and said it would be no problem. Ray held the two empty Jerry jugs on the way there and on the way back the driver put one in front of him and Ray put one in front of him. The people here always wave and are friendly. They seem very proud of their island and you don't see garbage around as you do on many.
Mar 19, 2010Yesterday we hiked out to Morgans Head. We thought we'd snorkel after but it was quite a long hike so that will have to wait till tomorrow. Morgans Head is a large rock formation on the end of an island near the entrance and it does look like a head. There is yet another cave here where it is said too that Morgan hid gold. A front is coming through here and last night we dragged quite a ways but fortunately didn't drag into any other boats and the anchor had reset by the time we realized we'd dragged when Bill got up to pee off the stern. A few boats dragged last night, some more than once. Ray and Bill cleaned and tightened the terminals and bus bar for our fridge and it has worked steadily since so we're hopping that's it. We had a slow leak in our dinghy and Ray went to shore to look for it and has reported it found so he'll mark it and patch it latter. He said two local guys came by and told him he should use Fab dish soap and went off to get some. They kept looking and wouldn't stop until they'd found it.
Today is Bill's 67th birthday. Last night he was sung happy birthday to by a local band. The Ocala put on a performance for the cruisers. They really seem to like to have us here. Some kids danced in costume and the band played islandy songs. They had an electric mandolin, a base guitar, a gut bucket, maracas, a cow bell and a horses jaw. We'd never seen one played before. He used it like a washboard but when he shook it it rattled as well. The wind is down and we hope to head the 194 nautical miles to the Hobbies tomorrow or the next day before dark depending on the sea conditions. It may be a short window so we don't want to miss it. Mar.22nd. We decided to wait out the last front and so now are planning to leave tomorrow at 2AM. There are reports of pirates around Media Luna but we'll be traveling with two other boats for safety. It will probably be wavier than our other passages. Hopefully not too bad. Our friend and former babysitter, Suzanne, will join us Apr. 5th in Roatan so we need to be there by then. Often Wishbone is like a library with all four of us reading.
Bye for now from the gang on Wishbone
Mar 9, 2010Hi everyone. We (Ray and Vonny, Sue and Bill) on Wishbone are finally away from Shelter Bay Marina at Colon, Panama where Wishbone has been for over a year. The wind has started to lessen a bit. Our plan was to go out of the harbour and go to San Andres, a Columbian island, if the seas were down enough. If they were still too high we'd go to Porto Belo, 20 miles to the east, which would put us at a little better angle to the wind for San Andres. If they were really terrible we'd tuck into a little anchorage 5 miles to the east of Colon. It wasn't too bad but still fairly rolly so we are at Porto Belo. Besides getting at a better angle for the wind it is our first sail and we are getting our sea legs and, more accurately, our sea stomachs. Ray and Sue seem to have the strongest stomachs. The wind continues to lighten and the seas calm so tomorrow we'll head the 217 nautical miles to San Andres. It should take about two days. At least we have our early morning take off routine figured out. Everything seems to be working except the head (toilet). We have a leak of sea water that seems persistent even though we have replaced a part and added sealant, then epoxy. We will just use the bucket or go in the head, open through hulls, flush like mad, close through hulls and mop up. Hopefully the seas will stay down until we get there.
Mar 12, 2010We are at San Andres and completed the longest sail for this season. The best thing about the passage was the weather which is a huge issue. For timing, it seemed to take us forever to make the first 25 miles because we were tacking with the light wind. As it turned out, of course, our going to the east wasn't an advantage for the wind but we're still glad we went there because it was like a shake down cruise and Bill and Sue got to see a nice little Panamanian town that they wouldn't have otherwise. Ray and I were there for a while last season. We ended up dropping our sail during the first day and motoring in a straight line toward San Andres. We had hoped to arrive in the morning of the third day but we made such good time on the calm sea that we were ahead of schedule. During the second day we tried to sail only in the light air to slow ourselves up but it was quite frustrating. So we decided to arrive during the second night and anchor in front of a grease factory on the leaward side of the island which looked straight forward for a night approach and move around to the more complicated entry to the port through reefs in the morning light. A coastguard boat came to us just before we were anchoured about 3AM to tell us we had to go to the port but we said (in broken Spanish) that it was not safe for us to do so at night and that seemed to satisfy them.
This morning they were back to make sure we were moving but they were very courteous. Bill was speculating that the old grease factory may be an army base because there was no smell. At the end of the first night before dawn while we were making passage the overheating alarm for our engine sounded. We were motor sailing at the time so continued sailing while Ray checked it out and found the belt for our raw water pump broken. He replaced it and we continued motor sailing. If we have to choose between conditions that would make us puke (but have lots of wind for sailing) or motor (and not have enough wind to sail), we always choose to motor. We'd rather not have big seas if we can avoid it so it's always a trade off. During the second day Ray noticed that the gasket that holds one of the arms that braces our wind generator pole had come out. He spent a long time standing on his toes on the stern rail trying to get another gasket under the ring that holds the arm while I was also standing on the rail pushing the main support for the wind generator toward him with Sue and Bill handing up tools. Of course Ray was trying not to drop a nut or bolt into the water as we were sailing along. And of course he was sweating buckets and we had to both be looking directly into the sun for what we were doing. Why does it always work out like that?
Also the second day we noticed that our refrigerator was not working. The meet that we'd stuffed into the little freezer when we were provisioning was thawing and the freezer was defrosting. And ...after we were anchoured by the factory we noticed that the masthead light stopped working. The steamer light had stopped working around midnight. And ...our self steering is still working but acting up a bit. So many things seem to be needing repair this year. We think it must be related to the water that was in the boat when we returned to it and the mould. A manager at Shelter Bay said that Panama knows how to do one thing and that is to grow mould. I'd have to agree with him. We'll just have to fix things when we can as we go along. But during the passage we had such calm seas, though there was no moon so the horizon wasn't always easy to see, with the sky full of stars. I'd have to say it was a very good passage in spite of the technical glitches.
Sue and Bill are great on board. They are seasoned sailors and understand about things not working on a boat and are always there to pitch in and do what they can as well as appreciating the good things about the life style. I guess it really is true that cruising is boat maintenance in exotic places. Our head situation doesn't seem as bad as it originally did. We just use the head and flush with a bucket of water, leaving the intake valve closed and leave a very absorbent rag under the drip. We'd like to move along to Providencia as soon as possible. Sounds like it is a quieter, prettier island. We'll try to get our refrigeration and autohelm looked at here if we can. Most of our meat is cooked and our diet is very meaty lately. With our disrupted sleep for the last couple of nights (we do two hour watches) we'll all sleep very well tonight. And of course there isn't all the creaking and motion. This is such a nice smooth anchourage with good holding and lots of breeze over the reefs. We are more than three degrees further north with less heat and humidity and that's nice too. After we were settled in this anchorage we had showers with the shower bag and orange juice with Champaign, patting ourselves on the back.
Bye from Captain and crew on Wishbone
Feb 15, 2010Hello everyone. After almost a year Ray and I, Vonny, are back at our sail boat, Wishbone, a 30' Nonsuch in Shelter Bay Marina, Colon, Panama. For a while we thought we might not be back to the boat this season because of family reasons but thank God we did come back. We've been up since 2AM and it's 10PM now. There was a 2 hr. hold up with our second flight. But dear Victor, our Panamanian cab driver, was still waiting for us and even stopped so we could get a few groceries and a phone card before bringing us to the marina and then said we owed him less than he had originally quoted. So of course we gave him more. Maybe he knows thats how it works, but we like him. Of course our travel experience is nothing like those who come from Australia and lots of other very far away places, but we're still pretty tired. When we arrived at the boat we were so incredibly disapointed.
Every year so far since we left Toronto in 2002 Wishbone has been perfect inside when we return. We do a lot before we leave to have it in good shape when we come back. When we left the boat in March we neglected to take the plug for our knot log impeller out so that if any water got into the boat at least it would be under the floor boards. It has always been so nice and dry. It's horrible, the worst by far ever with water a little over the floor boards and mould everywhere. It was getting dark when we arrived and we had planned to sleep on board but it is so awful we don't want to. There is a bit of a hotel connected with the marina and, although it is full, we were able to sleep in Gabriel's room. He lives here and works at the marina but is not here tonight. Tommorrow in the daylight and after some rest we will have to assess the damage and see what has to be done and what does and does not work. We were so disheartened when we saw below in Wishbone. I thought boats that looked and smelled like that were just not very well looked after. We were hoping to head to San Andres island Feb 28th with the full moon but are wondering now how long it will take us to get out of here and of course we'll be working our butts off for the next couple of weeks.
Feb 21 2010We have been working all day everyday to clean the boat up and although the floor looks like crap, the rest of the boat is good with the mould gone and the wood oiled. The cushions have been aired, cushion covers and every scrap of fabric on board washed and old mouldy pillows replaced. Totaly rusted pans are also replaced. Our friends, Sue and Bill arrive tommorrow from Canada. I think they'll stay with us until Roatan, Honduras. Our 30' Nonsuch is not a big boat but we should be OK. Walking around the docks here makes us feel downright puney. On the hard we have no refrigeration because our fridge uses a shoe on the exterior of the hull that disperses the heat into the water, and of course no head (toilet) until we are in the water but we do have a bucket. We even bought a new one without a crack in it that pinches you for our guests!
So this is no 5 star cruise. Now we need to turn our attention to cleaning and waxing our hull and deck, getting our antifouling on and making sure everything will work. We need to replace our batteries. I hope that won't hold us up.
Feb 27, 2010Our friends are here and we get along very well. The boat is looking much better. Our hull is nice and shiny (with 4 of us working on it, it took only one day) and our antifouling is on. Our friends, Sue and Bill, are going through the Panama Canal tommorrow, Sunday, as line handlers on an Australian boat that was our neighbour on the hard. When they come back on Tuesday or Wednesday we may be in the water. We'll miss heading out on our longest sail to San Andres (a Columbian island) on the full moon which is tonight but thats the way it goes. We replaced our house batteries and remarkably found exactly what we wanted at Casa de la Batteria in Colon. For the last two weeks I haven't been able to send or recieve with my little pocket mail device and was worried that they were going out of business. It is old technology. But today I had success so think I may be able to continue in my usual manner for another season. We will really have to break down and get a computer one of these days. This season we may be able to send some pictures through the laptop that our friends have brought with them, as of course we can never send them with our pocketmail. They'll come from email@example.com
Mar 1, 2010With Bill and Sue away our boat seems big and quiet. Hopefully they are having a good experience line handling through the Panama Canal. The hydraulic trailer that moves the boats from the jack stands to the travel lift is parked directly in fromt of our boat so we must be the next boat to be moved tommorrow. For the last two mornings I have tried unsuccessfully to pick up some nets to get weather patterns for this area on our single sideband radio. Hopefully I'll be successful tommorrow because we need to have a good idea of what is happening with the weather for the next while before we head to San Andres.
Mar 4, 2010Tuesday, before we were to go in the water, Ray was checking out the impeller for our raw water pump and realized the spool wouldn't turn. A guy at the marina took it apart and said we needed new bearings and a seal. The parts don't cost much but we had to go to Panama City, about an hour from Colon, and one place that didn't have them would call another, etc., etc. We used Victor again, as our taxi driver because he can speek English so we were able to get the right parts and of course it is an all day process that ends up costing lots, but at least we were able to get the parts. So we are still on the hard but can hopefully get in the water tommorrow.
Mar 6, 2010We did get in the water yesterday and is it ever nice to be floating. Also, our Yanmar engine is working and so is our dinghy motor. Bill has been able to get weather on his (actually his son's) computer yesterday and it looks like Tuesday should be good to go. It's been very windy the last few days and we can see high waves splashing over the breakwall outside of Shelter Bay. Today we'll provision now that we have a fridge. Tommorrow we'll give the office our documents to get our zarpe to clear out of Panama.
Bye for now from Vonny and Ray and Bill and Sue on Wishbone